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Saved from the bad boys by bad boys

27 Jul 2020 at 20:04hrs | Views
On Thursday 23 July prominent lawyer Alex Magaisa had an expose on the farm mechanisation scandal of 2007 of farm equipment that was meant to benefit the then newly resettled farmers in the government's half conceived land reform program but ended up in the bottomless pockets of the country's ruling elites and their cronies.

The juxtaposition of this revelation and the squalid conditions in which Mr. Simon Maketo (68) a resettled ex freedom fighter in Mutorashanga makes a sad reading. "I didn't know of such a scandal but it breaks me that the people we fought with share the spoils while people like me never get anything, the lucky ones at best got scotch carts." A visibly bewildered Maketo lamented.

Mr. Maketo's misery is an exemplification of every Zimbabwean outside the circles of the echelons of the power system whose present and future have been devoured by the country's scariest cancer, corruption. It is also symbolic of what has come to be the Zimbabwean paradox to be full of promise yet caught in a cul de suc.

From independence in 1980, the tell-tale signs of corruption were beginning to manifest and the first declaration to fight it was made with the passing in parliament of the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1983 and a commission subsequently installed to oversee its operations.
The commissions came with different names and personnel but the corruption mutated from one form to another and seemed undeterred by those purporting to fight it. 1987 saw the jaw dropping Willowgate Scandal which was to be the first of many recorded cases and even more that were simply swept under the carpet. To date over twenty five high level cases of not less than half a billion dollars have been confirmed but the arrests and prosecutions have been mere smoke screens.

Of the top scandals recorded, close to ten are in the agriculture sector, either being the disappearance of grain from the national granary or the misappropriation of inputs or the mishandling of the land itself, the troubles range as widely as the poverty they create. The latest of the agriculture scandals was the Command Agriculture scandal where the president Emmerson Mnangagwa embezzled three billion US Dollars from the national coffers to his underhand businesses.

Another notable case has been the diamond scandal whistle blown by the then minister of finance Tendai Biti where the proceeds from the country's gems never saw their way to national treasury. Initially 1 Billion US Dollars was said to have vanished but the case is suspected to have gobbled as much as USD 15 Billion.

Today Zimbabwe ranks 158 out of 180 countries on the Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index with much of its cases happening in the public sector and involving offices as high as cabinet ministers or public sector directors. The Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission which was ordained to curb the plague has at best been putting some arranged half-hearted arrests where culprits were released too soon and with no charge.

As the twilight sun lands on Mr. Maketo's ponderous face, he looks into the bare fields spreading ahead of him he questions the independence that he put his life on the line for. His neighbours from the huts dotted on this sandy patch of land go though the same routine of lack and pain while the children in ashy skins seem oblivious of the old man's thoughts and their own future being auctioned by the politicians swing in their childhood games.

In not so many words Mr. Maketo, grieves "We were saved from the bad boys by bad boys."

Source - Sandra Bvungidzire
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