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Kleptocracy replacing democracy

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THE extent of corruption in Zimbabwe has now assumed staggering proportions, and is still getting worse.

NewsDay Editorial

Would-be thieves and fraudsters see that nothing substantial has been done and is being done, taking this as a cue to continue on their criminal path scot-free.

Yesterday, we reported of a shocking scandal where a dubious or shady company involved in – of all businesses – supermarket retailing was awarded – of all tenders – the contract to refurbish buildings and supply medical equipment to Mnene Mission Hospital in Mberengwa, Midlands province.

This famous once thriving hospital – which treated freedom fighters during the liberation war at great risk from the Rhodesian army, but survived against great hardships – has fallen into dilapidation because of gross derelict of duty and grand theft. Responsible people, in particular the government, should hang their heads in shame.

According to the reports, hospital authorities were summoned by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Tuesday to explain how a tender was awarded after it emerged that the company, with the unlikely name of Food Miles, had failed to complete the project since 2011.

Mberengwa district medical officer Nyachowe Chandiwana told the committee that Food Miles had been awarded other tenders in 2011 to supply X-ray equipment worth $180 000 and an X-ray processor costing $40 000, but only delivered the equipment last month.

As if this was not scandalous enough, both machines broke down after being used for one day – yes, one day! – resulting in patients being referred to Zvishavane, Gweru and even as far as Bulawayo.

Said the Parliamentary committee chairperson Ruth Labode: “There is serious fraud and flouting of tender procedures here and we cannot talk to a supermarket manager when we are discussing issues of construction and hospital equipment. We want the owner of Food Miles himself . . .”

This is not an isolated case. Even if it were an isolated case, it would still be shocking. The economy has no chance of revival whatsoever with such rampant corruption. You can have 10 or 100 ZimAssets, but nothing will come of them with such a culture of theft and greed.

The delayed reaction three years later is tantamount to closing the stable door after the horses have long bolted out. The relevant ministries – from Finance, Public Construction to Health – are all to blame because of inaction and, worse, complicity.

Things don’t go off rails to such an extent as to jackknife without collusion from top to bottom and across ministries. This is deliberate and shocking. This makes talk of sanctions as having led to the deterioration of infrastructure countrywide as hollow and empty as the spaces between stars.

What we now have are tenderpreneurs, instead of entrepreneurs, who abuse political power and influence to secure government tenders and contracts.

It has been said before and it will be restated here and now: The Zanu PF regime does not have the political will to clamp down on corruption. In fact, under its watch (or lack of it), corruption has thrived and been embedded.

Kleptocracy, or thieving, is replacing democracy

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