Corruption in our society has become a cancer to be fought with relentless determination.
Opinion by Alfred Towo
President Robert Mugabe appears content not only to live with the disease, but to allow it to flourish unchecked among his close political associates. This reluctance to curb corruption has created a climate in which it has spread like a cancer while those at the top look on complacently or even condone it as was reportedly done by Vice-President Joice Mujuru recently.
The abundance of evidence on corruption in public offices and local authorities and the inaction by the President implies he is aware of the graft and that he condones it.
There are implications of such graft on development and attitudes by public officials when they see no reprimands, but instead rewards are given in the form of retirement perks to the culprits.
Corruption can only be stopped by action from the highest offices of the land. This reluctance to curb corruption has created a climate in which it has spread uncontrollably, while those at the top look on complacently with a see no evil, hear no evil attitude.
There have been many earth-shaking scandals involving senior politicians since independence, but they have been protected by the system and the cases swept under the carpet. Now corruption has become all pervasive due to this immunity provided by those that rule.
The result is that corruption could now be justified as political strategy and can be patronaged for political protection. The rule of law can easily be circumvented with the right connections, albeit for self-enrichment.
There is a serious disempowerment of consciences within these scavengers. They have become so intoxicated with power and the noise from their propaganda machines to the extent that they now have the obduracy to believe that it’s a political party feast.
Morality and conscience are on the downturn even in churches where church leaders are busy chanting the chorus of prosperity and, at the same time covetously practising wife accumulation.
Unlimited political power is a classic recipe for corruption and plunder of our scarce resources, especially in Africa where political power and political patronage are a means to economic enrichment.
The few investigated cases are prolonged in nature and often do not result in conviction.
Regardless of the abundance of evidence and the implications, the culprits seem to have been forgotten and rewarded in one way or the other.
They still dip their grizzly fingers in the feeding trough willy-nilly. Indeed there are sacred cows. Involvement in corruption appears to be enhancing political careers and not damaging them, thus indeed we are rewarding thieves.
The sudden explosion of unethical practices in the public sector and the sad dearth of ethics, defined by various scholars as a code or standards set by society for itself, cannot just be wished away at this time when the country has an 80% unemployment rate, challenges in the provision and timely delivery of basic social services and other despicable abnormalities.
This patronaged corruption is haemorrhaging the economy while national integrity systems like Parliament, Judiciary and other watchdog institutions have lost their relative autonomy.
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission is just a paper tiger and the law enforcement system is toothless, save for incarcerating innocent political victims.
While Zimbabweans go about their normal business as if nothing is happening, it is important to remind one another that ethics is something like electricity, not apparent to the naked eye, but it is felt and becomes apparent when the power is switched on.
It has something to do with the sense of right and wrong — what is permissible, what is done or not done. This is lacking in our society at this moment in time. What then can we do in this perilous situation?
Whilst we ponder on this, it is good to realise that ethics is an aid to moral navigation. We can sail without it if we wish but at our own peril. All that is necessary for evil to prevail is that we stand aside and do nothing about it. Once we do this we get used to evil, we put on its armour and become active participants in it.
Let us do away with this disgusting feeling of helplessness and do something; if not for us then for our children; the future generations.
All spheres of our lives are premised on politics, government policies, their implications and dynamics behind resource allocation, distribution and consumption at macro level.
We are hindered by a deeply entrenched system of patronage, more so when government and Zanu PF have become identical Siamese twins.
With accountability and professionalism now subordinated to party politics, it is inevitable that immoral, criminal and corrupt activities that serve political advantage would be given immunity and impunity only judged and chastened if they did not.
President Mugabe continues to adopt an attitude of bewilderment, expressing occasional bouts of anger, threatening fire and brimstone as he did in September last year, alleging former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa received a US$6 million bribe in a botched diamond mining deal.
A few weeks ago, he made an embarrassing climbdown absolving Masimirembwa of any wrong doing.
Please set your priorities right and walk the talk Mr Commander in Chief, corruption is a venality to be frowned upon. We are the victims and we demand an end to corruption. Corruption deserves to be laid bare and those found wanting should be named and shamed and face the full wrath of the law.
The cases of ZBC, PSMAS, Air Zimbabwe, Zesa, Harare City Council, and the list is endless, are classic examples of the extent of looting that has caused untold anger among ordinary citizens.
Scavengers continue with their inexplicable obstinacy and shameless plundering of the country, through engaging in various nefarious activities such as nepotism, corruption and human rights abuses and still have the audacity to sing the sanctions propaganda as the impediment to service and viability.
The sanctions narrative is reckless, self-serving and belated. We demand accountability as of yesterday. Real sanctions on the people of Zimbabwe are corruption, looting of state enterprises through obscene salaries and other corrupt procurement tendencies.