Failure to deal with corruption tarnishes the country

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Auditor General Mildred Chiri

ZIMBABWE has always ranked poorly on the Global Corruption Perception Index. In the 2021 report released last week, it ranked 157 out of 180 countries, with a score of 23 out of 100.

This suggests that the country is seen as super corrupt and ranked even lower than Nigeria and comparable to Cambodia.

So, reports suggesting that the country’s mostly insolvent State and public enterprises have salted away substantial amounts of funds under the pretext of donations are not shocking. Thieving has become the norm in State-owned enterprisdes, it appears.

The alleged looting was brought to the fore by Zimbabwe Anti–Corruption Commission (Zacc) deputy chairperson Kuziva Murapa at the weekend.

He raised concern that the Auditor-General’s recommendations for State firms to make follow-ups on undelivered goods had been ignored, and wastage of taxpayers’ funds through this loophole was worsening.

“(The) Auditor-General’s reports are replete with cases of flagrant abuse of public funds under the pretext of donations where public entities made numerous payments towards activities that were totally out of sync with the institutions’ line of operations,” Murapa told an inaugural accounting and financial reporting seminar for independent commissions.

“As Zacc, we have received cases of such shameless abuse of public funds some of which are before the courts. Little or no action had been taken by the concerned institutions to preempt repetition of such activities in line with the auditor-general’s recommendations. Zacc would like to call on Parliament to unreservedly stamp its authority and use its powers to cause sanction to those found not upholding the principles related to use of and accounting for public funds.”

This is evidence of how President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has dismally failed to stop graft in its midst.

That this is occurring at a time when State entities have become an albatross on the fiscus is a damning indictment on Mnangagwa and the claim that his government is committed to fighting corruption.

The failure by government to act on numerous reports by Auditor-General Mildred Chiri on malfeasance in the public sector renders Mnangagwa’s tough talk against corruption hollow.

The fact that the contribution of State firms to the fiscus has plummeted from 40% to 12% due to graft shows that all the talk of eliminating corruption by Mnangagwa is nothing more than political posturing. Rampant corruption in public entities is the reason the government fails to convince the citizens that the country’s economic decline is as a result of the sanctions imposed by Western countries at the turn of the century.

Mnangagwa’s government needs to have less bark and more bite if it is to effectively nip corruption in the bud.