YESTERDAY, we reported that parliamentarians from across the political divide united and called for an explanation on why Health minister David Parirenyatwa had been paid $100 000 by the struggling Premier Services Medical Aid Society.
The legislators also called for an investigation into Parirenyatwa and a number of officials, including President Robert Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba, as they suspect they unduly benefited from the medical insurance company.
Such bipartisan advocacy from our parliamentarians is rare and should be applauded and encouraged.
More often than not, legislators stick to party lines, sometimes no matter how irrational, and fail to put the country first.
We commend the legislators for taking the lead in fighting what they suspect to be corruption by the Executive and we urge them not to stop there, but rather pursue the matter vigorously until corrupt elements are uprooted.
Our Parliament has often been accused of being a paper tiger. We have not seen them taking the lead in such a manner, hence it is refreshing to see them take the initiative.
As the legislators rightly noted, the Auditor-General’s reports often detail misappropriation of public funds, yet no one has been brought to book for these transgressions.
Thus, Parliament should be given powers to summon errant officials and, if possible, prosecute them for their involvement in corruption.
For long, corruption has been cited as one of the cancers eating at the core of our nation, but far too little is being done to address it.
It was disheartening to hear Charamba saying Mugabe would not act on Parirenyatwa because no one had reported the matter to him.
A President should not only act because there is a direct complaint, but a sign of good leadership is anticipating a problem and acting pre-emptively before it festers into a cancerous wound.
The media and Parliament have also been quite loud, demanding an explanation from Parirenyatwa — and now Charamba — and the ball is firmly in Mugabe’s court. The President must act now and decisively.
The President has waxed lyrical about dealing with corruption, but if he lets Parirenyatwa off the hook, without as much as a public explanation from the minister, then it is clear Mugabe is only paying lip service to the fight against graft.
Unfortunately, Mugabe’s inertia sends a wrong message — particularly to bureaucrats — that they can do anything and get away with it.
It is important that we reiterate that the best way to fix our economy is by dealing with the variables within our control and eliminating corruption is one such variable.
The government can moan about sanctions, but that is an external issue that we have no control over and we should concentrate on what we can change.
Without passing sentence on Parirenyatwa, we believe if he were to explain himself at least, or at best, pay back the money, he would earn a number of admirers. But the longer he keeps quiet, the more the court of public opinion believes he is guilty.
We praise our colleagues at Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, who reportedly refused to interview Parirenyatwa until he cleared his name in this murky affair and we wish they could extend such courtesy to any government official accused of graft.
It is our hope that as the ruling Zanu PF decidedly looks East, they should also take a leaf from China’s books, as the Chinese deal with corruption in a very decisive and often harsh manner.
We hope parliamentarians have got their groove back and they should put in place legislation and tougher penalties for any financial improprieties and corruption.