By Kudakwashe Marazanye
I HEARTILY applaud Information minister Jonathan Moyo for his spirited effort to expose corrupt leaders in both the party and public service organisations. Moyo is proving to be the m
ost effective minister we have had since independence.
Moyo is galvanising public opinion against thieving and corrupt public figures and in getting appropriate organs of the state like the police to take action. It is the same Moyo who got the lifeless academics at the Reserve Bank to wake up from their slumber and start rolling up their sleeves to address the problems bedevilling the economy. The appointment of Dr Gideon Gono can be attributed to the campaign by the public media under the effective and hands-on leadership style of Professor Moyo.
Now the parallel market is tottering on the brink of collapse following the combined efforts of law enforcement agents and the public media. Taking a lead from the public media, the police have for once done a commendable job in bringing the force of the law against the exposed vices and their perpetrators. The illegal parallel gold market may well be doomed as the public media (ZBC and papers in the Zimpapers stable) have led a vigorous campaign against this vice. And now Moyo has exploded the myth that there are untouchables in society who can commit crimes with impunity owing to their political and economic muscle.
To some of us passionate nationalists it had become embarrassing to associate ourselves with the ruling Zanu PF, as the view among the members of the public has been that Zanu PF was a haven of thieves and other fugitives from the law. But now the chickens are coming home to roost for those who came to Zanu PF to protect their ill-gotten wealth. There are a lot more respectable criminals still to be exposed.
The law enforcement system has been compromised. Rich criminals never go to jail. The long arm of the law only stretches as far as the high-density suburbs leaving out criminals ensconced in Borrowdale and some such places. White-collar crime in this country is getting out of hand and the fashionable thing for these smooth criminals is to join the up town churches in the leafy northern suburbs pretending to be born again Christians. Car dealers (a polite term for sophisticated car thieves) bribe people at the Central Vehicle Registry and other relevant offices. They then use their blood money to corrupt Pentecostal pastors (themselves crazy about earthly possessions) so they can be given prominent positions in church.
Some businessmen have been heard to say they are joining Zanu PF to protect themselves should they be exposed to be operating outside the law. Indigenous businessmen have been known to corruptly buy fuel from Noczim at subsidised rates for resale at black market rates at their filling stations. Yet others have been known to commandeer maize from the GMB under the pretext of distributing it in their wards, only to sell at black market prices and pocketing the proceeds.
Some will say coming hard on these black criminals is an own goal against indigenisation. But the discerning will dismiss that claim with the contempt it deserves. Is it indigenisation that breeds criminals? Is it indigenisation that produces corrupt public officials who pander to the criminal whims of the few indigenous criminals hiding their crimes behind the banner of indigenisation? No. We went to war not for the right to become criminals but the right to have equal opportunities to use our abilities to make money and better our living standards. If we do not put a stop to this seemingly inexorable march towards the wholesale criminalisation of society, very soon we will be exporting criminals – sophisticated though they maybe like Nigeria yet from independence to the 1990s we were renowned for exporting skilled and diligent workers.
Respectable criminals and corrupt officials inspire more criminals from the ranks of our youngsters and public servants. Leaving white-collar crime to flourish also deals a felling blow to efforts at empowering women, as our beauties are known to make a beeline for smooth criminals with lots of money. Corruption is now killing the incentive for hard work to earn a clean income. Industry is full of impostors whose CVs are full of lies about their qualifications and experience. Many now corruptly get fake certificates having paid officials in the education system.
So to Moyo, the public media and the police we say please leave no stone unturned in your efforts to eradicate this vice threatening our society. These actions are aimed at wooing back voters who had deserted Zanu PF en masse in protest at its collusion with criminal and corrupt elements. This is meant to enhance Zanu PF’s electoral fortunes in next year’s parliamentary elections.
Government should consider raising the economic standing of police and judicial officers so that they are not bullied and corrupted by economically powerful criminals. Government can do this by paying police and judicial officers competitive rates. This need not necessarily be at private sector rates, but competitive enough to make these officers respectable, not the laughing stock of society.
This competitive salary coupled with the provision of cars and houses will sure go a long way in making them less prone to accepting bribes. Through the Ministry of Public Construction and National Housing, government could build houses for judicial and police officers whose positions make them susceptible to corruption. These houses should remain government property.
The training of police officers will need to be changed from the current one where emphasis is put on developing and encouraging the use of brawn and not brain by the police force. Now that the native criminal is also a smart thinker our ill-equipped baton-stick wielding police officers have been found wanting. More resources should now be made available to train our police force on how to deal with white collar crime instead of the current over-policing of townships which has filled our jails with small time pick pockets.
This disproportionate attention to small time criminals leaves white collar crime to flourish, yet white collar crime costs society much more than pick pocketing which is mostly motivated by need. White collar crime is always motivated by greed. These measures will definitely inspire confidence in these very important institutions of government and help in making them more efficient and effective.
Kudakwashe Marazanye is a Harare-based freelance writer.