Zimbabwe has once again featured quite prominently as one of the most corrupt countries in the world — a disturbing record that should frighten us all, and get the rulers of this country to reconsider the way they are doing things.
The highly respected international anti-graft watchdog, Transparency International (TI), last week published a report that paints a grim picture of how corruption has undermined Covid-19 response in many countries. In Zimbabwe, the US$60 million Drax saga immediately comes to mind.
Out of 180 countries picked by TI for corruption ranking, Zimbabwe squats at number 157. This ranking outcome speaks to the rampant graft that our country has been known for — corruption that knows no bounds.
Top officials of government, including even the president, through relatives and friends, have been embroiled in corruption allegations that have eroded the people’s confidence and trust. Corruption in Zimbabwe, like Covid-19, has become a problematic contagion, prospects of whose eradication have become but a mirage.
From the politician, corruption has infected the policeman at a roadblock, the teacher giving extra lessons, the crowded passport office, the fuel attendant, right down to the village head distributing drought relief food.
The outbreak of Covid-19 has presented a new and fertile opportunity across the entire spectrum of graft. TI says in its latest report that corruption is prevalent across the Covid-19 response — from bribery for fake Covid-19 tests, secret payment for priority treatment, down to public procurement of personal protective equipment and medical supplies.
The report quotes TI’s interim managing director Daniel Eriksson as saying: “What you see is that the procurement of protection equipment —masks, ventilators and so on — is not being handled transparently. That makes it very attractive for corrupt people to siphon off money into their own pocket, thereby making themselves rich at the cost of the population at large — corruption in this case actually kills people.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa needs to come down firm on corruption and show genuine intolerance; not the verbal acrobatics that we continue to be fed on. People see through the lame efforts such as the various toothless anti-corruption units that the government seeks to keep us blinded by. They are sick and tired of being lied to.
Mnangagwa’s government cannot continue to draw comfort from the “new dispensation” excuse. For how long are you supposed to be new or young? Even at the ripe age of 60, one is still young to his mother. ED’s “new dispensation” should wake up and start getting real.
The Covid-19 war will not be won for as long as corruption syndicates continue to thrive and the people see the president’s name and pictures feature amongst the criminals, without satisfactory explanation.