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Corruption: Festering wound with no cure?

by Lovemore Moyo

For the past 40 years Zimbabweans have been unequivocally stripped of their inalienable rights to basic food, shelter, water, education and health care.
Indeed, this has been the hallmark and the legacy of the Zanu PF government of running down the once thriving economy on the continent. The once proud nation has been reduced to a nation of beggars, hardly producing enough food for its citizens. Political analysts often argue that Zimbabwe now qualifies to be classified in the category of failed and pariah states. The accessibility of basic commodities and other necessities have become increasingly difficult for the majority of ordinary people. The scarcity of basic commodities on the market has enormously pushed the prices far beyond the reach of the ordinary persons. To compound matters, the few available commodities and services are now found on the black market. What is extremely shocking is the discovery that most of traders in the black market economy are sponsored by unscrupulous big corporates.  

However, the gap between the rich and the poor is incredibly widening to the levels of alarming proportions. This is profoundly exacerbated by high unemployment and diminishing levels of disposable incomes amongst the majority of the population. Even those few who are gainfully employed earn inadequate salaries which are not enough to sustain their families. This sad state of affairs has undoubtedly forced some of our people to indulge in various criminal activities to sustain themselves and their families. Literally, the country has been turned into a flea market and a vendor’s economy where the majority of people now depend on selling mostly basic commodities on the streets. The law of the jungle now rules in the streets of our cities, towns, growth points and business centres. Survival of the fittest has become the norm in our streets as traders jostle for customers. 

The continued shortages of cash and meal-mealie in our retail shops has further worsened the situation. Surprisingly, meal-mealie is readily available in the streets and being traded on the black market on hard cash basis, when the same hard cash is unavailable in the banks. Consequently, the majority of  Zimbabweans have resorted to buying and selling basic commodities on the black market. It is very unfortunate that our people have been reduced to food scavengers and doing undignified things to feed their families. Nowadays, it is no longer surprising to see men and women, regardless of their social status, carrying bags of meal-mealie and other basic commodities on their shoulders. On the contrary, the above mentioned rights have now become a privilege for the struggling masses. In contrast, the political elite and bourgeoisie class who, in most cases, are well connected to the state and the ruling class continue enjoying the aforementioned human rights at the expense of the poor masses of Zimbabwe .

In essence, this horrible existing state of affairs has created business cartels and tender entrepreneurs who, through corrupt tendencies, embark on looting sprees. It is important to note that these individuals have become extremely powerful, obscenely rich and are a threat to the country’s national security, economy, peace and prosperity. Most of these individuals are either directly or indirectly in control of these institutions of the State and well connected to Zanu PF. Together with the corrupt politicians, they have managed to capture the state and its institutions. Ultimately, most government institutions have been rendered weak and seriously compromised to resist purveyors of corruption. In most instances, these institutions have become dysfunctional, incapacitated and largely used as a conduit for corrupt activities. 

It is therefore not surprising to hear stories about the availability of, and actually see, new bond notes being traded in the black market more than in the  banks. In this regard, the central bank cannot plead innocence as they hold monopoly over that function. Some commercial banks like CBZ can not plead innocence either, and elude scrutiny. CBZ  dominated both the social and conventional media headlines a few weeks ago, having been allegedly fingered in the illicit deals involving Marry Chiwenga and  facilitating the flight of millions of United States dollars outside the country. Certainly, the two financial institutions owe Zimbabweans a full explanation and must account in regard to their exact roles in aiding corruption and  theft of public funds. Of course, there  are many  state institutions which are used by Zanu PF politicians to legitimise the looting of state resources, theft of public funds and properties. What is shocking is the deafening silence and lack of a decisive action against corrupt individuals  by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is allegedly linked to these business cartels. The poorly planned political hullabaloo about the anti-corruption crusade, the so-called naming and shaming of corrupt powerful individuals has come to naught. In simple terms, this is  a mere political strategy to hoodwink the ordinary citizens and the international community  into believing that Zanu PF is finally acting on corruption. 

Many of us are far from being just a little convinced as the published list omitted known culprits fingered in numerous corruption scandals. The naming by the Zanu PF youth league of a few individuals who have been allegedly involved in corruption scandals and deals like Billy  Rautenbach, Kuda Tagwirei and Tafadzwa Musarara is nothing, but a tip of the iceberg. We can only take seriously the government’s commitment to eradicate corruption when substantial political heavyweights, top civil servants, private and public sector managers implicated in corrupt activities  are successfully prosecuted and convicted.

l Lovemore Moyo is UMD president and former Speaker of Parliament of Zimbabwe
Go to www.thestandard.co.zw for full article

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