Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

Executive failing corruption fight

27 Mar 2021 at 09:27hrs | Views
ROSA Parks is not just a name in the United States. She is a torchbearer when it comes to civil rights movements. Parks one day decided not to give her seat to a white person in a public bus.

A moment of defiance that remains etched in United States history of blacks fighting for equality.

The United States has a dark history when it comes to race relations. The world is still in shock after a white police officer killed George Floyd by choking him in a public square in May last year. Today, the Black Lives Matter movement has received support from most sporting codes across the world.

Fighting a nation's demons is a herculean task. It is made harder because many leaders are not ready for change. Change is a word many use for political campaigning but are not ready to implement. Soon after getting power, they claw back to their familiar territory.

Zimbabwe has its demons too and the biggest of them is corruption, embezzlement of public funds and outright abuse of authority by leaders. This has been a blot on the country's history with no less than one major scandal every decade and for some good measure, the main actors are the same.

Notable among the scandals are the Grain Marketing Board grain scandal when the country woke up to empty silos. The minister in charge then Kumbirai Kangai (may his soul rest in peace) got away with it and lived to tell the tale. At the close of the first decade of independence, Zimbabwe had the Willowgate scandal. A scandal that sucked in Cabinet ministers who were behaving like car dealers, taking advantage of shortage of cars on the market.

Two of the big names embroiled in the scandal are the now Foreign Affairs minister Frederick Shava and Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda. The lesson to the young and old is unmistakable - corruption pays.

The 1990's witnessed two major scandals - the abuse of War Victims Compensation Fund, and Civil Servants Housing Scheme. Many senior public officials were declared above 70% disability and given monetary compensation. The man at the centre was the late Chenjerai Hunzvi. He examined most of the beneficiaries and was rewarded with a ministerial post soon after the 2002 presidential election.

In the 2000s, we witnessed the Reserve Bank Farm Mechanisation Programme where resettled farmers were given tractors and other farming implements in a purported loan scheme. By 2015, we were told the debt had been assumed by the State through the Reserve Bank Debt Assumption Act. In simpler terms, the State bought and gave public leaders and other politically-exposed persons capital equipment for free and the taxpayers will carry the can.

In the last five years, Zimbabwe has dealt with the Dema Diesel Power plant and Command Agriculture scandals. These deals were concluded without going to tender. They were implemented without any feasibility studies and like the past scandals, the taxpayer will once again carry the burden while the politicians smile all the way to the bank.

In all this darkness and during the women's month - it is important to celebrate Zimbabwe's under-appreciated heroine Mildred Chiri. As the country's Auditor-General, she has shown light in the deep, dark crevices of financial impropriety by the Executive and public officers.

Year in year out, Chiri diligently and consistently produces audited statements of parastatals and government departments. She is doing a sterling job but each year she is let down by Parliament of Zimbabwe and the Executive. More often than not her reports are left to gather dust on the shelves, never read and her recommendations conveniently disregarded.

Chiri's work has been in vain. Some of the statutory bodies that are meant to fight graft like the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, Special Anti-Corruption Unit
and Police Commercial Crimes Unit have never dared to read these audit reports. It could be a deliberate move or it is a result of a direct instruction from the Executive.

However, my worry is the ineptitude of Parliament in fighting graft. There are two issues that needs pondering - we either have incompetent MPs or these MPs are simply errant boys for the Executive and would, therefore, not upset the applecart.

Over the years, because of the toxic politics in the country, the majority of MPs are more concerned about being brawny than brainy. Competency and meritocracy are words that are missing in political parties' dictionaries. Democracy has been failing us. Many MPs cannot read and understand Chiri's audit reports despite that they are written in simple English.

The Public Accounts, Land and Agriculture, and the Budget and Finance parliamentary committees have been riddled with factionalism, infantile quarrels and at worst outright attempts to make the committees dysfunctional. It is a sad reality that Chiri's audit reports, therefore, become just pieces of paper not taken seriously by any relevant authority.

Chiri is just but one of the women leaders who have been failed by the system. A sad picture of how the State has failed to protect, promote and praise work by women. We are a country that has fallen into doing the motions of political correctness but with no regard to do the right thing.

In celebrating the women's month, Zimbabwe could do better by fighting corruption that is draining the national fiscus. It would also be a true appreciation of a public servant who has, despite the adverse conditions in the country, consistently done her work far from the media, not seeking personal glory but the development of the country.

Any further disregard of Chiri's audit reports by Parliament and the Executive confirms the fear that the State has been captured by parasitic and vulture capitalists. Chiri has done her bit and the elephant in the room - corruption - has to be confronted now. Let the Executive nail its colours to the mast on corruption.

Paidamoyo Muzulu is a journalist based in Harare. He writes here in his personal capacity.

Source - newsday
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.