The fight against corruption is a tricky one especially when such corruption has become embedded in government. Embedded corruption works like a web; in involves intricate linkages straddling whole organisations.
If it hits a ministry, it means everyone from the office sweeper to the minister becomes part of the web. It also links ministries, the corporate world and shadowy syndicates that act as middlemen.
Many countries fighting corruption have established anti-corruption commissions and tasked them to investigate graft. But the results have not been forthcoming.
Often members of the anti-corruption commission end up in the dock, tables having been turned against them by the targets of their probes. This has happened in Zimbabwe.
Research elsewhere has shown that anti-corruption commissions do not work because they are not properly empowered to handle the kind of investigations they have to deal with. It has been shown in some countries such as Kenya that the greatest impediment to investigating corruption is the absence of political will.
Political will can only be guaranteed if those in the corridors of power are themselves not involved. Often they are fully involved having been co-opted either voluntarily or through blackmail.
To fight corruption, one has to identify the weakest link in the web and, if that is destroyed, the whole edifice collapses. Investigations should begin by establishing the existence of the syndicate and how it works.
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The weakest link is not necessarily the office sweeper, who is often an innocent-looking reprobate sent on errands to deliver or receive the bribes. It needs painstaking investigation to establish exactly how the web works; and the best people to do this are the police. They too can only be effective when the country’s Executive gives them the nod.
The CMED (Pvt) Ltd saga comes in as a test case. Everything seems clear enough. CMED gave a company, First Oil, $3 million to procure fuel for the country. The fuel was never delivered!
Everyone has known this for a long time. Investigations were launched and someone somewhere knows what exactly happened to the money and what syndicate pocketed it.
The infighting that has been taking place in the CMED offices means someone in there is in the know and is trying to cover up. It is obvious there is some kind of protection for the culprits at CMED. But, that makes any investigator’s job simpler; the weakest link is in the CMED offices.
The onus is now on the Executive to show their will to fight the corruption at CMED by sending in the Zimbabwe Republic Police. Our police are known to be very efficient investigating such crimes; it only needs the go-ahead from the Executive.
It is, however, clear the Executive won’t move anytime soon for the CMED saga has been in the public domain for a while without it batting an eyelid.
Therein lies the problem. All the cases of corruption exposed in recent months will go uninvestigated and the culprits will emerge, as has happened in the past, better off than those who have dared expose them.