Ability to name-drop using president’s name exposes disgraceful depths of high-level corruption in Zimbabwe

Source: Ability to name-drop using president’s name exposes disgraceful depths of high-level corruption in Zimbabwe

Let us just imagine this scenario.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

My son goes to a house in our neighborhood, and claims to the occupants that I had sent him to ask for some money.

What response are we to expect from this family?

I am sure it would largely depend on either of three factors.

Surely, the neighbor would be shocked by such an unexpected, clearly inappropriate and shocking request – especially, if we never had such a close relationship, whereby I would ask for money from them.

It becomes worse if we are not even familiar with each other.

Furthermore, usually in such circumstances, there is always a high likelihood that I never sent my son, in the first place, and he was merely trying to dupe the neighbor of his cash.

The logical and most likely outcome in this case is that, he will either refuse, outright, to give my son the money, or he can investigate further whether the request is genuine, and why I elected such an incomprehensible approach.

Or, on the other hand – if this sort of request is something common between us, and more so, sending my son for such a purpose nothing strange – then, the neighbor would not find anything untoward, therefore, give him (my son) the money without any hesitation.

Maybe, there could be a third scenario, much darker and more unnerving, in that, I am notorious in my neighborhood – not necessarily for borrowing money, but as a menacing thug, who instills terror in all those who know me – as such, denying my demands, is a sure death-wish.

This brings me back to my country, Zimbabwe.

It was most unsettling and extremely disturbing coming across a statement by our police force, warning all those involved in abusing the president’s name – as they fleeced and defrauded unsuspecting people of their money and property – under the pretext that he had instructed them to do so, or were close to the highest office on the land.

The first thing that came to my mind, after hearing of this peculiar and undeniably troubling threat by our law enforcement, was – how is this even possibly?

How is name-dropping able to succeed if there was nothing already gravely amiss and distorted with our country’s governance system?

As with my earlier illustration – let us say, someone were to go to a local businessperson, claiming that he was working under the direction of the president to demand cash and goods for the ruling party’s presidential campaign.

Or, a suspect in a criminal case is arrested by law enforcement agents, on accusations of misappropriating funds and material from a public enterprise – whereby, the commanding officer receives a visit from an individual alleging to have been sent by the president to order the immediate release of the accused.

Maybe, a senior land officer is given a call by a person saying that, as a close ally of the head of state, he wants the official to provide him an offer letter for a particular farm.

In all these three scenarios – what does it tell us about the state of our country?

Firstly, why would the businessperson, police commanding officer, and senior lands official obey commands that are undoubtedly unlawful?

The president clearly does not possess the authority to demand the donation of cash and goods from anyone, or order the release of a person from lawful detention, or demanding the allocation of land without following proper procedure.

Why do those, finding themselves under this precarious situation, complying with illegal and unlawful instructions?

Would we be too wrong in concluding that, this is because the president is most likely already known for issuing similar demands?

Or, possibly, this is a direct result of a regime infamous for its ruthlessness and barbarity – which have instilled so much terror in the population, including those who are supposed to be professional – to the extent that, even clearly unlawful and improper directives are obeyed?

How else are we, the ordinary citizenry merely watching from afar, surely expected to assume?

It is extremely difficult for me to believe that, such things would be possible in a truly democratic country – which faithfully honors and respects the rule of law – as the citizenry fully understand their rights, and where the powers and authority of the state president begin and end.

In a normal country, a police commanding officer would refuse, in no uncertain terms, any such orders – and, the faulting president immediately exposed, and possibly impeached.

Furthermore, in a truly democratic country – those in power are totally aware of, and dutifully adhere to, the limits of their legal authority – never acting beyond what is expected of their office, nor instilling fear in the people they are supposed to lead, who end up obeying unlawful instructions.

Failure of which, leaves the door wide open for opportunists – who are able to abuse and misuse the name of the president – simply because they know it is doable.

That is where our problem in Zimbabwe lies.

©Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936, or email: mbofana.tendaruben73@gmaIL.com

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