“Hi my name is Zimbabwe and I am corrupt!”
Wouldn’t it be great if we could send the whole country to corruption anonymous for rehabilitation? Imagine everyone having to explain how they have been corrupt or aided and abetted corruption.
“I paid a bribe to a police officer because I was driving under the influence without a licence.”
“I gave money to the headmaster at my child’s school so that he could be moved up the waiting list and get a place for Form 1.”
“My brother in law knew a guy who could get me a work permit in South Africa for X amount.”
“Ah paborder hapachanetsi, vanhu vacho vese veZimra ndakuvaziva, ndipe X chete iwewe ndinogadzirisa.”
“As Minister of Government I procured 20 new vehicles for the Ministry, 10 of which were used by my family and private businesses.”
Ok, the last one might be a bit of a stretch (or not) but the point is we have a rather corrupt society. Every Zimbabwean has or knows someone close to them who has committed a corrupt act, though some might not admit it.
It’s become so commonplace that basic services need for one to “siya yedrink” before those services are rendered.
What is most worrying about the corruption in Zimbabwe is that even on the rare occasions when it is exposed in the media nothing is really done about it.
The latest scandal to break the surface and “shock” us is that of Heath and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa who was allegedly sent $100 000 unprocedurally by PSMAS.
I don’t know what exactly is happening over at PSMAS but surely by now, after the Cashbert Dube debacle, the State Owned Enterprise should be making some sort of effort not to be making the news in such an unsavoury manner.
But here’s the thing, in Zimbabwe corruption is endemic and we just don’t care. *gasp* Outrageous! How can I say that? Well let’s look at the facts.
The Auditor-General Mildred Chiri (bless her soul) has on numerous occasions this year exposed corrupt practices in Government departments, ministries and parastatals.
In February this year she put out an audit report that showed 22 ministries had poor corporate governance, abused fund accounts, flouted procurement procedures and other such corrupt practices.
In the same month The Herald reported that $16,5 million revolving fund for the production of licence plates had gone missing from the Central Vehicle Registry.
When BEAM was audited it was noted that more than $2 million dollars was left unused affecting thousands of pupils due to mismanagement of funds. An audit of the District Development Fund revealed that $1,6 million in fuel was unaccounted for.
The Health Services Board (HSB) was caught up in a fuel and car hire scandal in July while in the same month Information, Communication and Technology and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira fired the Potraz board over issues of graft.
And then there is the unconstitutional retention which could be costing Zimbabwe millions according to Auditor-General Mildred Chiri. She said audits showed that a number of Government ministries were retaining funds without remitting to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
The other day The Herald reported that despite government directive against it, parastatal and State-owned enterprise bosses were still earning huge salaries. The Environmental Management Agency, the HSB and the Mining Development Corporation were among some of the enterprises which paid unauthorised board fees and management salaries and benefits.
This epitomises how pervasive and unattended the problem is. The government will issue a directive and it just remains completely ignored, sitting in someone’s inbox or shredded perhaps.
And it’s not just the public sector but the private sector is caught up in it too. Yesterday FlyAfrica was grounded after the Civic Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe suspended its operations.
The CEO of FlyAfrica.com put out a statement saying that the airline company was laying criminal charges of fraud and theft against their Zimbabwean partners. It’s also alleged that the company did not have an accounting manager in violation of Statutory Instrument 140.2010.
So looking at the evidence, despite numerous audit reports exposing gross mismanagement in multiple government ministries and state owned enterprises as well as other private sector misconduct very limited action has been taken, almost no arrests and very few heads have rolled. Why? Well, we just don’t care
Last year the audit report exposed 18 ministries and this year the number increased to 22. Why? Well, We just don’t care.
This then begs the question as to what measures are actually in place to deal with these issues once they have been raised and how they should be implemented?
One body constitutionally tasked to “Combat Corruption and Crime,” is the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC). Article 255 of the Constitution mandates the Commission to investigate and expose cases of corruption in the private and public sector.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that “those who fight corruption should be clean themselves,” ironic right? But taking his words seriously this is where the ZACC falls short.
In March this year the chief executive of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission Ngonidzashe Gumbo was in imprisoned for 10 years for defrauding the commission of $435 000. Gumbo is also a former Senior Assistant Commissioner of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
The entire Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission is actually another institution which has come under fire from the Auditor-General Mildred Chiri as its books were found not to be in order. There are clearly very few “clean” individuals over at the ZACC.
How then are we supposed to be serious about cracking down on corruption when those whose one job it is to do so are corrupt themselves?
So again my conclusion is that we just don’t care about corruption. It’s everywhere in our country. From police bribes you’ve paid, or the hours that you’ve spent away from your desk during company time doing madhiri, to mismanagement of state funds and exorbitant board fees others have paid themselves we are all complicit in the corruption game in this country.
I concede that for most of us it is not our fault, it’s just the way things are right now. But as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t matter whether it was the chicken or the egg that came first we’ve all got our hands in the pot.
The sooner we all accept that we are flawed, get off our high horses and line up for corruption rehab the better. If not, we will remain part of the problem and nothing will change.