Last week, I attended a function in Borrowdale, Harare, where Dr Sekai Nzenza was presented as the new chief executive officer of RioZim Foundation.
I don’t know in which capacity I was there more: Was it as a media person; or as her cousin? You see, my paternal grandmother was the elder sister of Dr Nzenza’s paternal grandmother.
Dr Nzenza’s tale is one of focus, determination, drive and achievement, but one could never tell this from her quiet demeanour. A PhD holder who started off as a nurse, she has been involved in humanitarian work in Australia, Africa and the United States.
When she returned to Zimbabwe, she established the Simukai Project, a village-based community development initiative working with burial societies to promote health, education and income-generating schemes. A versatile individual, she encapsulates her global and village experiences in her weekly newspaper column and has many followers as she writes with simplicity, intelligence and authenticity. She is a real role model.
That is why her predecessor, Elisha Mushayakarara, expressed confidence that RioZim Foundation would continue in good and safe hands. Mushayakarara could not help, but make a brief, but loaded reference to the corruption scandals being revealed daily in the media, saying: “Here at RioZim we don’t do that. Every cent is accounted for.”
This was much to the delight of the guests, who included several government ministers, Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni, businesspeople and doctors as he touched on their impeccable record of good corporate governance since the Foundation’s establishment some 40 years ago when there were hardly any non-governmental organisations in the country.
Mushayakarara had every right to boast without bragging. We were there to celebrate achievement, not opportunism. It was not a political function, but it was instructive in view of the proven endemic corruption in the country aided and abetted by top government officials.
Corruption is corruption; you cannot ideologise it in the name of indigenisation as to virtually decriminalise it. False radicalism must not be allowed to hide thievery.
Racketeers cannot be held up as examples of empowerment. The nation can’t be that short of role models. Politics has been used to satisfy greed, not need. People must not behave like family members who adamantly support each other and cry victimisation no matter how hideous a crime one of them commits.
So, despite overwhelming evidence of corruption, it was startling to read in a newspaper Harare lawyer Terrence Hussein refer to “so-called corruption”? Can we, in turn, call him a “so-called lawyer”? These are not particularly difficult cases. They are a gift to both the police and the prosecution.
One doesn’t have to be semantic or stick to legal niceties unless they are out of touch with the anger on the ground, which could burst and overtake the whole court process itself if not treated with due seriousness and urgency. The benefit of doubt is no longer there. It’s not suspicion of corruption, but glaring evidence of it. Investigators might start with lifestyle audits and will be shocked to discover that heaven could actually exist in some pockets of Zimbabwe.
Maybe it’s time to have investigative judges where the presiding judge is primarily responsible for supervising the gathering of the evidence necessary to resolve a case. He or she actively steers the search for evidence and questions the witnesses, including the respondent or defendant. Prosecutors in such a system do not have a personal incentive to win convictions for political gain. But with the present system we have in Zimbabwe, there is a tendency by some lawyers to please their political bosses at the expense of justice. Lawyers become very much players, resulting in a travesty of justice.
A day or so after the Borrowdale function, Manyenyeni had to suspend Harare town clerk Tendai Mahachi after the latter refused to furnish him with the salary schedule of top council management following reports that they were earning as much as $40 000 in a city where virtually every basic service has collapsed and ordinary council employees are not being paid on time.
While Information minister Jonathan Moyo — who has come into his own — has been extolling media across the board for exposing endemic corruption in high places, Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo has been busy pulling in the opposite direction, reversing the suspension of Mahachi on the flimsiest of grounds.
It’s not only at Harare City Council where executive pay is top secret. It’s common practice across State-owned firms that the payroll of top management is separate and secret. This explains why company executives are so loath to share information with employees. They are mean enough to do this and smart enough to get away with it.
But it’s getting to a stage where they will not be able to cover their tracks. If they try to destroy evidence, they won’t succeed in this electronic age because virtually every stored information is now recoverable.
For over 30 years the mystery of what was on the 181/2-minute gap in one of United States President Richard Nixon’s Watergate tapes lay hidden in the political scandal that brought down the President in 1974.
Using the latest technology, scientists have been able to recover the 181/2-minute gap.
So, Chombo, a PhD holder, could be on a futile pursuit to suppress information. The whole sordid mess could be in the open sooner rather than later.
The genie is out of the bottle; you can’t put toothpaste back in the tube; you can’t put a fired bullet back in the gun.
This exposes Chombo more than Mahachi.