EDITORIAL COMMENT: Intensify fight against corruption

Prof Jonathan Moyo

Prof Jonathan Moyo

It was becoming fashionable over the past few years for one to be corrupt in our country.

Those who were corrupt had positioned themselves close to or right in Zanu-PF and Government.  They would brandish the party card to intimidate anyone who dared question their shenanigans.

Some illegally and cheaply secured large tracts of land in towns and cities which they demarcated and sold to earn millions.  Others secured multi-million dollar Government tenders or smuggled precious minerals and other valuable goods in and out of the country.

Some, like former Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Professor Jonathan Moyo, actually admitted to helping themselves to public money and, thinking they were defending themselves, said they abused the resources to fund Zanu-PF programmes.  Others paid themselves board fees when they never attended any board meetings, rather, the companies in whose name they draw the money had no board of directors.

They were never brought to book because they were embedded in the ruling class of the time.   The existence of this culture was partly to blame for the economic challenges we are facing as a country.

Drastic action had to be taken against this culture but it was evident that the system as it existed two months ago and earlier had no motivation to do so.  Only a new government could strongly tackle the crime.

That is exactly what we are seeing now.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared war on corruption when he assumed office on November 24 last year.  He speaks out against it at every forum.

On Sunday in Bulawayo, he once again lashed out against the vice.

“The church must be free from all forms of corruption. Let us resolve as a people to be honest and fair in all interactions. In this new dispensation, the culture of corruption and impunity will not be allowed to fester or go unchecked,” he said while addressing a National Thanksgiving and Dedication Service at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair’s Hall 4 in the city.

“No more cutting corners, no more breaking of rules, no more using people’s money for personal enrichment. My government is committed to zero tolerance towards corruption. Both public and private sector officials, at all levels, who engage in corrupt practices will be caught and punished without fear or favour.  I recognise that corruption is also in our streets, in our schools, hospitals and places of work and sadly also in the church. Our commitment to wipe it out will be applied across all socio-economic spectrums. I equally exhort the justice delivery system to be fair, honest and just in executing their mandate.”

Unlike in the past when it all ended with high-sounding rhetoric, President Mnangagwa is backing up his anti-corruption statements with action.

Former ministers Ignatius Chombo, Jason Machaya and Walter Chidhakwa and former permanent secretary, Francis Gudyanga have been arrested over the past few weeks on corruption charges and have appeared in court.  The Government has also suspended the top officials at the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund to pave way for a forensic audit.

These are really high-profile arrests that must send the message that the new Government of President Mnangagwa is determined to root out corruption.

Zimbabweans who have suffered the consequences of corruption with nowhere to turn are encouraged by the ongoing drive.  They are pleased with the work that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission — emasculated over the past five years by political interference and under-funding – is doing.  They look forward to an intensification of the onslaught and more high profile figures being arrested and hauled before the courts to answer to charges of corruption.  Also, they look forward to the Government broadening its investigations beyond the country’s borders for those who may have fled to be accounted for.

It is important to note that the African Union is paying particular attention to fighting corruption this year.  The theme for 2018 is “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.”

“As we work towards building stronger institutions and promoting prosperity, the fight against corruption assumes even greater importance and urgency,” said the African Union Commission chairperson Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat in his New Year message issued on December 31 and published elsewhere in this issue.

“It is a well-recognised fact that corruption hinders efforts aimed at promoting democratic governance, socio-economic transformation and peace and security. It creates inequality in our societies and erodes the rule of law. While empirical evidence shows that Africa has made some encouraging steps in the last five years, huge challenges remain. In recognition of these, the African Union Assembly declared 2018 as the African Anti-Corruption Year (Project 2018), with the theme . . .”

Our Government is in good company.  Therefore, any opposition to the ongoing clampdown against corruption must be ignored. In fact, the drive must be deepened, widened and sustained.

Article Source: The Chronicle