LET us imagine a small town – with residents living on the verge of impoverishment due to the collapse of their only mainstay (an iron and steel-making company) over a decade ago — yet, their town fathers are busy travelling overseas for unclear business, on scarce resources that are so desperately needed to provide the barest minimum of basic needs such as potable water, which has been lacking for years.
This, on top of numerous other shady deals, including the questionable underhand sale and disposal of the town’s immovable properties and assets — a move whose benefit to the local community has hardly been obvious — but never shy in providing flashy vehicles and construction of plush mansions for those in high office.
What are we to say about such leaders? Let us remember these are not isolated cases but a sign of what has become the most disturbing and shameful norm in Zimbabwe afflicting almost everyone from the very top to the lowest. In fact, the collapse of Zimbabwe’s State-owned ZiscoSteel was a direct consequence of the gross corruption by high-ranking central government officials — who presided over the unashamed stripping of the company’s assets, running the employer of 8 000 (producing one million tonnes of steel per year) into the ground.
Zimbabwe was last year ranked 157 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, with the one at the top being the least corrupt.
Over the past 42 years alone, the country reportedly lost over US$100 billion to graft, fraud and pillaging — with an average US$1,5 billion (a third of total potential earnings) of gold being smuggled out to foreign lands each year.
I will not even go into the US$25 billion in diamonds, over the past 15 years, that has never been accounted for — with a paltry 1% having reached national coffers — in addition to the widespread diversion of other State resources meant for the citizenry.
Are we to describe these corrupt individuals as crooked and scandalous —or there is more to such despicable behaviour than meets the eye — possibly, an underlying cruelty, characterised by idiocy and a serious dearth of intellectual capacity?
I have often asked myself this question. However, a clear answer has always evaded me.
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I, honestly cannot wrap my head around an individual who sees absolutely nothing amiss or reprehensible about looting and plundering resources that are intended to benefit the broader community or nation — purely for his or her own selfish pleasures, while those he or she is supposed to serve wallow in abject poverty, lacking the most basic of human needs.
I also cannot help wondering why – if these people truly desired such opulence and the so-called “good life” cannot improve themselves in life by getting high-paying jobs, or honestly establish successful business enterprises? Do they have to loot to achieve these things?
Or, maybe they simply do not have the brains for such?
Surely, who would make a whole hullabaloo if someone in the mould of Econet Wireless’ Strive Masiyiwa, or Alpha Media Holdings’ Trevor Ncube, or business mogul Shingi Munyeza, or banker Nigel Chanakira were to holiday in Mauritius or the Seychelles, buy the most lavish homes and extravagant cars, or dine on the finest wines and exquisite dinners?
This is their money — earned through their creative and business-oriented intelligent minds that drove them to these heights of financial success — and, no one with all their senses intact can ever fault or begrudge them for their opulent livelihoods.
So, how come Zimbabwe appears infested, to such shocking levels, with some of the most corrupt people in the entire world - with the most destructive being those in public office, whose wicked actions directly harm the lives of ordinary citizens – as they would have been entrusted with these resources, for the betterment of everyone, which they deviously choose to steal, misappropriate and misuse?
Is this what our youths are to emulate and idolise – that, in Zimbabwe, the only avenue to riches and comfortable living is via looting the public purse?
What became of those who dreamt of working hard for their financial success in life — who grew up admiring the Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerbergs of this world – whose paths to the dizzy heights they achieved was largely through sheer brilliance, intellect and hard work?
Are we, then, to say, in Zimbabwe we lack such people? Are we surely a nation of dimwits – who are totally unable and incapable of honestly creating their own wealth – without resorting to deviance and plunder?
I am actually afraid of even pondering and accepting the possibilities that this could, indeed, be the case.
It is never strange encountering those whom Zimbabweans refer to as “mbinga” (rich people) who do not appear to be engaged in any meaningful livelihoods – whose vast wealth can never be traceable to any source.
Of course, there is also one other explanation – plain laziness, and a fear of hard, honest work, and the challenges faced along the way to financial prosperity.
Maybe that is the reason we now witness, in utter bewilderment, the mushrooming of a plethora of so-called “prosperity gospel churches” — with congregants willing to be subjected to the most degrading, humiliating, unbiblical and unChristian acts — simply for the love of some quick miracle wealth.
Is there any wonder we have such horrendous levels of corruption in Zimbabwe?
This goes way beyond deceptive minds — since the crookedness is merely a symptom of a much deeper issue.