AS the coronavirus infection rate in the country continues to increase, it is fundamental that we all work together as citizens, regardless of our station in life, to fight this pandemic. What is however, tragic, and likely to be a drawback to these efforts, is the corruption that has slowly started creeping into these efforts.
Yesterday, we published a story whereby Treasury authorised payment of nearly US$1 million to a shady COVID-19 equipment supplier fronted by an equally questionable character – Delish Nguwaya.
It has since emerged that the authorities okayed the deal after Nguwaya claimed to be in partnership with one of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s sons.
It also became clear that the prices had been inflated, but authorities at the Finance ministry nevertheless approved the deal even without going to tender on the strength of Nguwaya’s claimed link with the First Family.
That aside, Nguwaya himself has a nefarious reputation for name-dropping and has often been accused of fraud and extortion while masquerading as a Central Intelligence Organisation operative.
Thank God, the deal collapsed after someone raised the red flag in Cabinet, forcing Mnangagwa to intervene and stop the transaction. Ideally, the authorities ought to have made thorough due diligence checks before approving a business deal involving such a character. The Nguwaya case could be just a tip of the iceberg.
Our systems have become so rotten that dubious individuals with low moral creditworthiness continue to win these tenders at the expense of genuine and honest businesspeople who have no political connections to rely on.
What is quite shocking is that this tender was awarded courtesy of a special exemption after government had terminated contracts of suppliers of medicines and medical sundries required to fight COVID-19.
Quite obviously, the Mnangagwa name was the game changer in this case, and the rules had to be bent in order to accommodate him. This is not only outrageous, but tragic, as it proves beyond reasonable doubt that our efforts to fight corruption are all talk but no action. Those that are supposed to be at the forefront of fighting graft are deeply embedded in it, and fighting corruption would be fighting their efforts to line their pockets.
We urge the government to revisit this matter and take the necessary corrective steps if they are to restore citizens’ confidence in their promises. They simply have to walk the talk and do the right things. We eagerly wait to see what will happen. If such things are allowed to continue, then we know that our leaders are not committed to fighting graft, and probably this explains why they have been handling sleaze with kids gloves.