The sad tale of greed in Africa

editorial comment

REVELATIONS by a United Nations report that Africa is losing nearly US$89 billion in illicit financial flows such as tax evasion and theft amounting to more than what it receives in development aid makes sad reading.

This disclosure by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in a 248-page report, which calls Africa “a net creditor of the world”, shows that it is actually a net exporter of capital because of these trends.

This scourge shows why Africa remains under-developed and reliant on donors despite having a huge potential to be a cash-rich continent that is self-reliant. Zimbabwe is no different when it comes to looting of millions of dollars through corruption, pillaging and mismanagement.

The financial losses resulting from graft and mismanagement are shocking. Speaking at the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding between the African Parliamentary Network Against Corruption (Zimbabwe Chapter), the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) and Transparency International Zimbabwe, Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda last week said up to US$7 billion was lost through graft between 2009 and 2017.

Zacc chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo earlier this year expressed frustration over the government’s lack of resolve to fight corruption, amid shocking exposures that the country is losing a massive US$1,8 billion annually due to the vice.

The late former President Robert Mugabe once leaked that US$15 billion worth of diamond revenue from Chiadzwa had been looted.

Even though the figure was exaggerated, the confirmation by the then head of State of looting on a grand scale indicates why the country has become an economic backwater despite being endowed with a wealth of resources.

Last week, senators decried the chaos in the mining sector regarding the issuance of mining claims which have resulted in fights and disputes as well as the problem of machete gangs.

This has resulted in minerals worth millions of dollars being looted and smuggled outside the country. The Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill envisaged to bring sanity to the sector has remained on the cards for more than a decade, leading to further losses to the fiscus.

This is why there are very few takers when President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government points to the sanctions imposed by the United States as the major cause of the country’s economic decline.

There is no doubt that the sanctions have had a negative impact on the country’s battered economy.

However, it will be stretching realism to breaking point to blame the country’s economic malaise on sanctions alone. The illicit flows from corruption and mismanagement have probably done more damage to the country than the restrictions imposed on the country.

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