ZIMBABWE is indeed not only going through painful times, but an extra-ordinary period as the southern African nation grapples with very difficult socio-economic and political circumstances.
Last week the troubled nation was afforded a rare peek into the belly of the country’s public finances when the Finance ministry’s Accountant-General Daniel Muchemwa appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) led by Tendai Biti to answer to allegations of unauthorised allocations of funds to the Command
Agriculture programme, the centre of a trending controversy involving some US$3,2 billion.
Through Biti, PAC asked the following to Muchema: “How do you feel when you offend the Public Finance and Management Act and the Constitution, and all laws?
How does a country function when there are bureaucrats in the Ministry of Finance that do not respect the laws of the country? You are supposed to be the
enforcers of good governance and how do we have a country where the enforcer is the one committing the bank robberies, and what is the point of a budget when
the Ministry of Finance is at the forefront of derailing those allocations?”
To which Muchemwa replied: “I think we have accepted that for three years, we did not comply with the law. Lack of respect of the law will be consistent
throughout your questions.” If this issue is not fit to immediately land in the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc)’s in-tray, and marked “extremely
urgent”, then the country’s fight against corruption may as well be called off before the country’s money is wasted on wild goose chases.
What has been happening at the Finance ministry is more than a cause for concern. What has been allowed to happen there does not need Zacc to look too far for
juicier corruption cases. Zimbabwe ill affords to have people at the Finance ministry who tell us — without even batting an eyelid, that “we did not comply
with the law”.
Honestly, here are people who are admitting, and not before the courts, but before the nation that they broke the law. And in the process of breaking the law
US$3,2 billion simply vanished into thin air, and these blocs at the Finance ministry are still sitting comfortably in their jobs; swinging lazily in their
office armchairs, while exuding an abundance of confidence that nothing will ever happen to them.
If the country is indeed serious about stabbing corruption at its very heart, it should zero in at the Finance ministry because what has been happening there,
and probably still taking place, makes the National Social Security Authority scandal involving fired and incarcerated Environment, Tourism and Hospitality
Industry minister Priscah Mupfumira kids’ play.
At the Finance ministry, we are talking of the equivalent of the entire 2017 National Budget allocation vanishing in the twinkling of an eye.
It would be very disconcerting if Zacc does not refocus all its energies into this matter because this issue has all the potential and ingredients of exposing
the real big fish in Zimbabwe’s massive corruption lake.