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Corruption is the elephant in the room

03 May 2019 at 07:10hrs | Views
No rocket science is needed to appreciate that, coupled with the debilitating effects of sanctions, corruption is one of the major drivers of the political and socio-economic decay in Zimbabwe today. In fact, corruption is so deeply embedded in all facets of our life be it political, religious, business, social etc etc. Corruption is like a malignant cancer rapturing and tearing apart the very fabric of our existence as a nation.

Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It can be classified as grand, petty and political, depending on the amounts of money lost and the sector where it occurs. From your small-time illegal foreign currency dealer on the street corner, to your vacuous and vapid but extremely powerful and well-connected politician in the ruling party or even within opposition political parties, corruption is widely being practised in Zimbabwe. It has now become a national curse, a sordid and deprecating badge of shame and dishonour.

There is massive and unprecedented corruption within political circles, business circles, religious circles, in the security services, at the courts and in fact, in both the public and private sectors. Corruption is stinking to high heavens. Unless and until we adopt and implement effective measures and strategies to identify, clamp down and eventually reduce or even eliminate corruption, Zimbabwe's national economy will continue to tank and in the process, causing massive public disaffection, disharmony and discontent. Put simply, corruption in Zimbabwe has now effectively degenerated into becoming a very serious and alarming national security threat.

Business cartels and monopolistic and greedy but insipidly corrupt informal networks have since sprouted within the private sector to such an extent that the prevailing unrealistic and random increase in the prices of basic goods and services can easily be linked to the emergence of these corrupt but extremely powerful business cartels. Something surely has got to give. We cannot continue on this ruinous and self-destruct route that is causing untold misery and suffering to the majority of Zimbabweans.

In one of my recent opinion pieces, I boldly stated that I always speak truth to power and as such, I am not going to spare the blame that also involves very senior government officials and top notch business executives in the private sector. We have got absolutely no other viable option but to be ruthless and uncompromising when it comes to dealing with and thwarting corruption or else the much publicised Government's anti-corruption onslaught will be nothing but an embarrassing and humiliating flop. Thus, we shouldn't only denounce corruption in word ; we should also be seen to be effectively uprooting the cancer of corruption within our midst and in the process, firing corrupt public officials and also ensuring that the full wrath of the law descends upon all corrupt officials in both the public and private sectors.

Let us learn from and indeed, emulate other countries that are apparently succeeding in fighting graft. A far-reaching campaign against corruption began in China following the conclusion of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012. The anti-corruption campaign under Chinese President Xi Jinping has since gone a gear up and a significant number of senior public officials have been caught and dealt with in the anti-corruption dragnet. This anti-corruption onslaught was arguably the largest anti-graft effort in the history of Communist rule in China. Upon taking office, President Xi Jinping vowed to crack down on ''tigers and flies'', that is, high-level officials and local civil servants alike. Most of the officials investigated were removed from office and faced accusations of bribery and abuse of power, although the range of alleged abuses varied widely. As of 2016, the campaign has 'netted' over 120 high-ranking officials, including about a dozen high-ranking military officers, several senior executives of state-owned companies, and five national leaders. More than 100 000 people have been indicted for corruption. The campaign is part of a much wider drive to clean up malfeasance within the Chinese Communist Party and shore up party unity. It has become the emblematic feature of President Xi Jinping's political brand.

Nearer home on the African continent, Rwanda and Cape Verde are the leading African countries in the war against corruption. They tied at position 48 out of 180 nations with 55 points, in the Transparency International's report of 2017 rankings. Zimbabwe is located way down the packing order. We have got to pull up our socks and deal the cancer of corruption a ruthless sucker punch. Rwanda is often touted as an example of what African countries could achieve if only they were better governed. Out of the ashes of a horrific genocide that killed about 800 000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in a short 100 days in 1994, President Paul Kagame has resuscitated the economy, curtailed corruption and maintained political stability. Of course, some critics have argued that President Paul Kagame has sacrificed basic human rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of association to sustain the ruling party's political hegemony. But there is absolutely no denying that Rwanda is one of Africa's economic success stories.

Going forward, we expect heads to roll as the anti-corruption onslaught gathers momentum in Zimbabwe. Failure is not an option and defeat is not on the agenda.

Obert Gutu is a Zimbabwean lawyer. He is also the MDC-T Vice President and the Founder & Executive Director of the Negona Legal Consultancy & Public Governance Institute LLC.

Source - Obert Gutu
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