In Zimbabwe, the government has a tendency to keep going over the same ideas or repeating the same actions, often resulting in confusion, some of it deliberate, without reaching a satisfactory decision or conclusion.
There is a lot of distraction and diversion when it comes to corruption. There has never been determination to tackle corruption head-on. The instruments are there to do that effectively, but there has been no concomitant political will.
In fact, corruption has been politicised and factionalised. First, those in the ruling Zanu PF have got away with grand corruption despite and in spite of overwhelming evidence pointing to their corrupt deeds while those not politically connected have been singled out for arrest and prosecution. Which political heavyweight has so far been made to answer for corruption? None.
All we have had are “show” arrests to give the impression that something is being done when nothing of the sort is happening. This has been the trend since independence. The higher you are, the less the chance of getting arrested and tried. In many cases, small fish have been sacrificed in order to deflect attention from the real culprits — the big fish — in the same way a lowly Mafia member has to take the blame to protect their boss. In the Paweni scandal, the late Agriculture minister Kumbirai Kangai, who authorised payment of fake invoices for imported grain during the intense drought in 1982, was never sanctioned, while businessman Sampson Paweni was jailed. The same still obtains today where relatively low-level officials are left with the blame for a crime regardless of whether they are involved or not. So we should now be talking of a political mafia elite. That is what it has come to.
Following the Zanu PF purge beginning last year, the corruption issue has been factionalised with those aligned to the camp led by ousted former Vice-President Joice Mujuru mostly fingered. It is not a coincidence, but factionalism at work to completely annihilate the Mujuru camp. It is blatant politics at play.
So, the nation should not be fooled following the announcement last week that “board members of parastatals face imminent dismissal as government flexes its muscle to stem corruption through the National Code on Corporate Governance”, as a State mouthpiece put it.
It is not about the code, but political will. The code only came into effect in April this year, but there are many other instruments on the statutes that could have been used to tackle corruption before. The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission could have done the job that it was set up to do, but for high-level political interference that has left it crippled and intimidated after it dared put three Cabinet ministers under investigation last year and had duly issued warrants to search their offices.
Unless and until all Cabinet ministers who have been implicated in corruption are made as much, if not more, answerable than parastatal board members they would have appointed in the first place, there is nothing to talk about.
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Nothing much will change in view of the National Code on Corporate Governance. In fact, the code is more likely to be abused to settle political scores and won’t do much to stem corruption.
And can we seriously have corrupt people in charge of or authorising investigations that could ultimately lead up to them if done rigorously, without fear or favour?
We don’t need another hoax to cover up corruption.