The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has blasted government’s lukewarm response to corruption cases as Presidential spokesperson George Charamba on Thursday conceded that ministers slept on duty while looting in State-owned firms and parastatals took place.
Charamba’s admission has put President Robert Mugabe and the Zanu PF government under fire with ordinary Zimbabweans demanding swift action to demonstrate that indeed Mugabe was sincere and ready to descend heavily on those implicated in the looting.
Speaking to a local radio station on Thursday, a remorseful Charamba, whose name has appeared in the Premier Services Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) scandal, said he was ready to resign or step down if forced to by a higher authority.
“That’s dereliction of duty on the part of ministries. We slept on the job. That’s the bottom line. Whether we snoozed because we were sleepy or snoozed because we were ignorant, it makes no difference,” Charamba said.
“Zimbabweans are angry and have every reason to be angry. Take, for example, ZBC (Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation). That money which was supposed to have them entertained was being taken to sponsor large lives. Those involved, including myself, should be made to pay. I should relinquish my position. If I am not moved by my conscience, I should be moved by a higher authority.”
Charamba spoke in apparent reference to the ministries of Mines, Media, Health, and Transport, among others, that have been rocked by salary scandals in parastatals under their supervision.
Charamba was bombarded with questions from listeners who questioned his sincerity and took him to task on a number of issues.
The secretary in the ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services said the ministry knew about the ZBC rot, but could not act against the sole broadcaster as that would have weakened Zanu PF prospects ahead of last year’s elections.
The rot in parastatals has angered Zimbabweans who have called for action to demonstrate government’s sincerity in dealing with the decay.
ZCTU yesterday said it was baffled by the lukewarm response of government to cases of corruption, including the “obscene” salaries earned by some executives.
“The ZCTU, since 2011, has been calling for the probing of executive salaries, but the call has been falling on deaf ears. Despite recent revelations of scandalous hefty salaries and benefits at ZBC, PSMAS, Marange Diamonds, Harare City Council and a host of government-owned institutions and parastatals, the State’s response has been ambivalent, signalling connivance in some quarters,” ZCTU
secretary-general Japhet Moyo said.
“We believe these companies had become looting havens for loyalists seconded to them by authorities in government. What is most surprising is that the culprits are staunch Zanu PF supporters and the ZCTU believes the issues will die a natural death just as the high-profile citing of Godwills Masimirembwa over a diamonds bribery case.
“lt is either government slept on duty or its officials were benefiting from the malice. It is high time the State responded fast as the nation is on its knees not because of sanctions as some allege, but institutionalised greed and looting.”