Corruptionwatch with TAWANDA MAJONI
It’s light years into the future. An extraordinary scientist — let’s call him Dr ED — has done a big Eureka on tropical diseases. So it’s no longer unusual to see drones carrying swarms of mosquitoes to hospitals, schools and refugee camps to cure malaria.
But then, it’s only here in Zimbabwe where everything — meaning a combination of nothing and anything — happens that you can believe such a thing will ever happen. Mosquitoes will always spread malaria, not cure it. That’s just the way it is, simple.
You have already heard how Zanu PF — this time led by a real ED — has been getting busy forming committees of people that it wants us to believe will be
fighting corruption. It all started when we were told that the ruling party’s youth league had drawn up lists of high ranking members that it claimed were as
dirty as maggots. One of those people, Prisca Mupfumira, a former cabinet minister, has since been arrested and is currently in remand prison. At least, we
have been made to believe that’s where she is. That’s hard to believe, though, when she comes to court dressed like she is a Harrods stakeholder, complete with
a butterfly face-do.
Mupfumira is innocent till proven guilty in a court of law, of course. But that doesn’t say she didn’t commit the array of crimes she is being accused of.
There is a catch in there, too. Mupfumira isn’t exactly on good letters with some of the chaps who happen to be managing the political game, so there is a very
good chance that her recent arrest may not have been primarily motivated by her alleged criminal ways. History provides a useful lesson in this. In Zanu PF,
you don’t get arrested for criminal commissions or omissions, no. Rather, they haul you in for political sins, but more on this later.
After the youth league “dossiers” and Mupfumira’s arrest, you then heard the ruling party bigwigs talking about the formation of provincial committees to
expose corrupt party members. The last time they said something about it, ED — that is President Emmerson Mnangagwa — was going to commission the committees, pretty like they do with big trash bins and small bridges during election time.
He should have done that already, it seems. But with this Tokyo International Conference on African Development where he is holding “historical” 15-minute meetings with the Japanese premier and what, what, the anti-corruption committees will have to wait a bit longer. But no-one except the circus goers is eager for the show. Precisely because that’s what it is, a yawning circus.
Let’s get the good points in a row right from the onset. It’s a long throw to believe mosquitoes will be curing malaria. In the same way, it’s a long haul to
believe that Zanu PF is being honest forming committees to fight corruption. It sounds bizarre and unbelievable. In fact, it sounds like an off-note mosquito
singing that it intends to cure itself of the malaria parasite.
What does that mean? You see, there is no way in which Zanu PF would ever investigate itself out of power. Chances are that, if the party started doing that in
earnest, almost all the chaps in there would be squirming in prison before you can say, “hallelujah”. Right from the top to the bottom of the party structures.
Bring out a single member of the party — never mind the rank — who is clean and get the Titanic’s black box as a reward. But since the Titanic had no black
box, you know what it means.
Corruption is a culture in Zanu PF. It’s a way of life. Take it away and the party is as dead as a dodo. It’s common cause that the party is full of cheats,
yes. But they aren’t too dumb not to know that exposing themselves in such a way will land them in a manhole. It would be a self-defeating public relations
stunt for the party to start sniffing under its own armpits. The English have a phrase for that. Hanging your dirty linen in public.
Besides, it’s also futile to assume that Zanu PF can be fighting corruption on its own if you consider things from a different angle. We don’t know of any
prize-winning expertise or attributes within the party to be investigating corruption. Chanting slogans is a whole world apart from probing corruption. Rigging
elections is, come to think about it, the anti-thesis of fighting corruption. These things can’t happen together. It’s like saying you can fight corruption by
doing corruption. Pretty like saying a mosquito can cure malaria. It’s a contradiction in terms.
So there must be good reasons why Zanu PF has invented this new lie of fighting corruption through its own structures. For one, it’s self-conceit. The cheats
think that they will fool people by pretending to be fighting corruption. They know that they are almost exclusively to blame for the extent of corruption in
the Zimbabwean fabric. But they also know that corruption is a very bad thing. Any person who would wake up and give a sustainable campaign to stem the graft
would win the hearts of many. Lots of votes and sympathy too. In this sense, the strategy feeds well into the “new dispensation” mantra. Too bad that people
are already seeing through the creaky cracks of the old dispensation papered up as new.
Secondly, the new anti-corruption fable must be linked to the party’s power politics. The party is in perennial election mode. The cheats are already looking
at 2023, the next election season, as if it’s going to come yesterday. Using a stage-managed anti-corruption crusade is a good strategy to get rid of internal
political enemies. So, going forward, you will see lots of rivals being targeted, accused of corruption and even getting arrested and taken to court. They will
be paraded as bad apples in a good basket even though the basket is, of course, as bad as the sum total of the apples.
In that sense, factions are going to manifest on the basis of the anti-corruption show. Each faction is going to compete with inside rivals to name and shame
supposed corrupt people. It will depend on how good your tactics are. For instance, the one faction that’s going to manage to stuff the national, provincial,
district and cell structures with its sympathisers will move in good stead against its competitors. And it will also depend on how much influence and control
you have over the law enforcement agencies. If you can manage the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) and the police, the gods are smiling on you.
That means ED has already started the sprint before the gun is fired, more or less. He already has the Special Anti-Corruption Unit right in his office. It’s
not clear if he is firmly in control of Zacc, but he is the incumbent, so his chances are still good. The police doesn’t look like it’s his greatest admirer or
most loyal servant in the post-Mugabe era, but he is still the president and can make a good move there.
So, then, the writing is on the wall. The next time you hear the party — or its dominant faction — talk about fighting corruption, just know its bedtime. It’s
Tawanda Majoni is the national coordinator at Information for Development Trust (IDT) and can be contacted on email@example.com