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WHILE President Emmerson Mnangagwa has, on several occasions, indicated that his “Second Republic” government will not tolerate corruption, Zimbabweans have been confronted by a different reality.

In fact, the elite have become more brazen to the detriment of our nation’s social fabric. We have observed that the President’s threats are somehow empty, with no demonstrated political will to walk the talk and inculcate a new culture of graft-busting and good corporate governance.

We understand that the National Social Security Authority forensic audit report currently with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) reportedly names top government and Zanu PF officials and the private sector allegedly involved in corruption.

Graft is threatening to gnaw the very core of our ubuntu, with no consequences to the perpetrators. It appears all parastatals have become the feeding troughs for the elite, their relatives, children and hangers-on.

Right now, Zimbabwe has been plunged into darkness yet Zesa has, through its many subsidiaries, been paying large sums of money to individuals connected to Zanu PF for services without delivery. Businessman Wicknell Chivayo is a case in point. Instead of the law taking its course, Chivayo is always posing for pictures with Mnangagwa or his close lieutenants at key occasions.

We do not blame him. Chivayo is not alone, as we have stated. This makes Mnangagwa’s threats of arrests seem political than curbing endemic graft. Zimbabweans need some seriousness, not this. It is our hope that Mnangagwa will now seek to prove his sincerity in dealing with sleaze —itself a major contributor to the current economic morass.

Unfortunately, the ruling elite continues to harp over sanctions by the West, yet they are the same culprits sanctioning the poor majority in this country by their actions. If the country’s leadership was serious, we would still prosper under these so-called embargoes, given we have chosen to funnel the country’s resources into individuals’ pockets.

We all know that it’s just a flimsy excuse. Mnangagwa can no longer hide under the guise of sanctions when we have a long list of those accused of being corrupt. It boggles the mind why government has chosen to legalise corruption.

If Mnangagwa’s corruption rhetoric is to be taken seriously, then he should utilise this opportunity and take all those found guilty of corruption to the cleaners. It is thoughtless to allow an entire nation to be brought down to its knees just because of a few, greedy individuals. We believe that whoever corruptly help themselves to national resources should be dealt with once and for all.

Besides the NSSA report, Auditor-General Mildred Chiri’s reports should give the President the impetus to act against corruption and abuse of State resources.

We also hope that Zacc chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo is genuine enough to prosecute those accused of corruption. We also hope that the new Zacc chair is/will not (be) compromised through both being a judge of the country’s High Court and wife to Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo.

We have no doubt that she can do so much and not beyond due to the convoluted relationships at play, in particular the conflation between the ruling Zanu PF party and government affairs.

Citizens have not yet forgotten that Zacc has, in the past, been used as a political tool to torment those who were eager to challenge power. Fairness is required in all this, and not to hoodwink the majority, who are suffering as a result of decades of past misrule.

Surely, as long as deep-seated corruption is not dealt with, then all efforts to turnaround the country’s economic fortunes will not yield positive results. We firmly believe that intolerance to corruption is key to economic growth.

 Fr Oskar Wermter SJ is a social commentator. He writes in his personal capacity.

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