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Token anti-corruption drive breeding apathy and despondency

18 Jul 2019 at 08:11hrs | Views
Last week, I agonised on what to write about. I had travelled and had a bit of work to do, but still thought I could get my column in.

In the end, I did not write anything because I failed to find the inspiration, among other things.

The question that lingered at the back of my mind was: Why do we even bother, as it seems they do not care?

I thought of Mildred Chiri, the Auditor-General, who, for years has shone the light on government corruption, but her job seems to be a thankless one.

She has no teeth to bite and despite all her hard work, there seems to be little, if any reward for her toil.
In 2017, we all hissed and seethed in anger when a report from Chiri's office told us that the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) could not locate land it had bought.

In the end, a row between NSSA and Zanu-PF legislator, Philip Chiyangwa, ensued on the missing land, but before long and without as much of a resolution, we moved on to the next scandal. This one became a distant and fading memory.

We also read that some parastatals, those parasites that bleed the country's coffers dry, had not been audited in eight years, meaning there is little accountability being done with public funds.

But because there is little remedial action, Chiri and her reports are swatted away as pesky inconveniences that will soon be forgotten, at least for 12 months.

On the other hand, President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government came in on a promise to arrest corruption and jail criminals around Robert Mugabe, the ousted former President.

Instead of the big bang arrests that the country was promised and expected, we have been underwhelmed by token trials, which almost collapse before they have even begun.

Mnangagwa had the opportunity to deal with corruption by giving the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission some teeth, but he has squandered it by appointing High Court Judge Loice Matanda-Moyo as the head of the body.
The albatross around the neck of Matanda-Moyo is that she is the wife of the man who announced the coup that paved way for Mnangagwa's presidency.

Anyone can argue what they want; say Matanda-Moyo is a capable person in her own right and that she is qualified for the job, but any reasonable person can hit back and say this reeks of nepotism and is a reward for her husband's exploits in being brave enough to announce the 2017 coup on television.

Mnangagwa could have selected a retired judge or an eminent lawyer for the semblance of independence, but he chose someone who was bound to draw the most controversy.

If Matanda-Moyo is brilliant and as good as a fuming Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda wants everyone to believe, then there will be more opportunities for her; this was the wrong one at the wrong time and will not help either the judge or Mnangagwa's reputation.

The Zanu-PF youth league has also issued a list of people that it says need to be investigated for corruption.
Fine and dandy, but it is difficult to shake the feeling that this is part of a factional battle, as there are reports of divisions within the party.

Hopefully, these allegations are investigated and those that are found on the wrong side of the law are prosecuted, but I am not holding my breath.

Even the person with the shortest of memory remembers the "Queen Bee" saga that captured the imagination of the entire country, as we were promised exposés that would shake the country to the core. Instead, the drama died down without as much of a whimper. This country is not short of efforts to expose corruption, but the sad reality is nothing is being done to stem graft and again, I raise the question on why we bother.

Despondency and apathy have made permanent homes in the minds of many that see the government as either unwilling or unable to combat corruption.

Instead, we have heard the most incredulous excuses from bureaucrats on why there is corruption, with former Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa blaming sanctions for graft.

But anyone who is old enough knows that corruption predates sanctions by more than two decades.

An urge to give up slowly creeps in because there seems to be no reward to stop corruption.

Frothing at the mouth and making all sorts of noise about corruption and government's lack of accountability seems to be nothing, but a fool's errand.

Quitting or being apathetic sometimes seems to be the most logical thing to do, as those in power can simply do as they please, with little repercussions.

Also, as a nation, it seems we have become inured to corruption; it seems we have come to accept that those in power will find a way to steal from the nation's coffers.

Instead of being angry and confronting the authors of our misery, we make excuses for them and as a result corruption thrives.

We have become emasculated bystanders, with little or no hope while those in positions do as they please with little or no accountability.

Trying to hold this lot to account seems to be a pointless endeavour. It is a thankless task, but somebody has go to do it and maybe one day those that have lacked common decency to steal from public funds and their enablers will be brought to account.

Chiri has shone the light in some of the darkest corners, but her work is incomplete without the support of Zimbabweans, civil society and journalists.

It is not enough to be just wowed by exposures, but we all have a duty to do something. To appropriate a hymnal by Carl P Daw, we have got to keep going "till no one hurts or steals or lies, and no more blood is spilled".

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Nqaba Matshazi is AMH head of digital. He writes this in his personal capacity. Feedback nmatshazi@alphamedia.co.zw Twitter: @nqabamatshazi

Source - newsday
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