When Zanu PF warded off the country’s greatest threat, the Western sponsored regime change project in July 2013, ordinarily it was hoped the country would get some breathing space to reconstruct the economy.
Sunday Opinion with Tafara Shumba
Unfortunately, a more serious threat has emerged in the mould of corruption which is threatening to suffocate the anticipated gains of robust blueprints like the Zimbabwe Agenda for Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset).
It is unfortunate that this ravaging threat is coming from the people who were entrusted to run the affairs of the public sector on the assumption that they were ideologically upright. The wave of corruption involving the CEOs of state enterprises now puts their uprightness into question, more so after their principal called for zero tolerance to corruption in his speech during the official opening of the First Session of the 8th Parliament.
The ongoing exposé of the rot in the parastatals and government-linked institutions by the media must be highly commendable. The greatest credit must go to the minister whose ministry the media falls under. This country needs at least five cabinet ministers of the calibre of Professor Jonathan Moyo to root out corruption.
President Mugabe should institute a commission of enquiry that should be headed by this no-nonsense professor. He is the first minister to tackle head on the rot at ZBC, a few months after taking charge of the ministry of information, media and broadcasting services.
The media, which fall within his jurisdiction, went on to expose equally nefarious activities in other institutions.
The scandalous activities needed a pretty thick-skinned minister to deal with. The media was privy to the obscene salaries that the executives of the parastatals were giving themselves. It was discussed in the media but nobody had the temerity to expose it, until Professor Moyo led the way.
Nevertheless, the media’s effort should be appreciated. There are institutions that naturally should have taken the lead in dealing with such rot. Unfortunately, they all waited for the media to expose it first.
The media has played its watchdog role, it’s now up to government to act and bring the culprits to book. With all the evidence laid on its table, the rest of the task is now easy for government. Only will-power is now needed and it is through the same that public confidence can be restored.
The government should adopt a wholesale approach in cleansing the boards and executive teams that presided over and benefitted from the scheme. Where there is a scandal, the whole board must be fired, and so must be the top executives. Zimbabwe has many capable people who can add value to the parastatals and take them to greater heights.
It does not make sense to replace Happison Muchechetere with Allan Chiweshe who was also enjoying ZBC remunerations without blowing the whistle to the relevant authorities. Chiweshe, Tazzen Mandizvidza and Eliot Kasu benefitted from the US$2 million housing scandal at ZBC. They all cruised in posh and fuel guzzling vehicles, received outrageous salaries and allowances while workers went for several months without salaries. It shows the whole lot lacks conscience and must never be trusted.
The looting culture will never be eradicated completely if the vestiges of a corrupt system are left in the corporation. What professor Moyo did to the ZBC board should have been done to the entire executive.
At Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS), one of the board members, Luxon Zembe was elevated to chair the board. While his business astuteness is not in doubt, the man is heavily comprised.
He was part of the board that approved the outrageous salaries. He also received sitting allowances when the society was failing to pay service providers. All the excuses that he was not aware of the salary scandal are just self-serving excuses that must be dismissed. The whole board must just be dissolved. The members collectively failed to carry out their function of strategic guidance and monitoring of management.
At least government has learnt a lot through the experience that the country is going through. It is time to go back to the drawing board and revisit the way CEOs and board members are appointed and remunerated.