Opinion / Women's Corner
Women empowerment the answer to Zimbabwe's corruption problems
05 Jan 2015 at 08:56hrs | Views
"The most common way people give up their power, is by thinking they don't have any" - Alice Walker.
As corruption in Zimbabwe continues to escalate to shocking proportions,its contagiousness is seemingly the order of the day and it has sadly become an acceptable,notorious norm which has ingrained itself as part of our daily life. State institutions,private and non-governmental are all plagued by it and it is not going into remission anytime soon. Viewing this problem from a new dimension to tackle it may be just be the answer we need to our feverish prayers. According to the Transparency lnternational Corruption Index report of 2012,Zimbabwe ranked number 163 out of 176 countries,it also ranked as number 3 in Africa ahead of our Nigerian and Egyptian counterparts. By definition corruption is "the abuse of entrusted power for private gain from someone in a position of authority",in layman terms meaning the theft of public money by public office bearers to the detriment and expense of its citizens. It is thereby a severe impediment to the political,social and economic development of a nation and it results in the perpetuation of suffering for the deprived in the society.
In the case of Zimbabwe we have seen half hearted attempts and feigned anger in response to those fingered for this crime,yet no clear follow through comes from the processes in actual investigations. This stunted follow- through indicates that we are a nation constantly taken for a ride by those who are "clever"in government and the biggest losers are us the civilians who allow this practice to go on unabated. There is a clear link between bad governance and economic ruin,in the same vein empirical evidence supports the view that with more women in public office the quality of government improves and corruption tends to decline. We must all first agree matter-of-factly that women have always mattered everywhere and are generally the backbones of any given society. Secondly that it is common knowledge that corruption largely undermines democracy and human development since public service becomes compromised by the lack of adequate resources to sustain the needs of the people. This is because money is callously diverted by those pushed by insatiable greed to meet their selfish personal ends. The results go on to speak for themselves through poor health systems,lack of adequate finances to build schools,roads,clinics,sub-standard service delivery and nothing to cover essential needs of a nation. Corruption goes on to have a correlation with lawlessness,a general lack of fairness and equal opportunities as well as the maintenance of a perpetual state of joblessness.
The answer to our problems is therefore a push towards rebranding Zimbabwe entirely, adopting the tried and tested elements of good governance to be the cornerstone of management of public resources. One among the commonly cited principles being respect for equality of gender. Empirical studies support the view that countries with more women in public office had improved quality of government and a decline in corrupt activities. Gender empowerment is therefore considered as one of the leading solutions currently being used to curb corruption in other African countries where anti corruption programs are run by the empowered women among them who mobilise to monitor and raise alarm against corruption threats in their communities. So for us Zimbabweans if women were consulted and included more in formulation and implementation of strategies for anti corruption policies at national level,the fight against this epidemic would be half way won.
To further expand on that,higher levels of women's participation in public offices are associated with lower levels of corruption according to studies by IRIS centre on 'corruption and women in government'. It is further stipulated that women tend to have a higher standard of ethical behaviour and are considerably more concerned with common good than their male counterparts. They are also risk averse in that they are less likely to take bribes when there are chances of being caught if there are well regulated systems in place. They are generally excluded from the "old boys networks" these social and political circles being the hub of corrupt tendencies. Once our nation accepts the reality that women have always played an integral role in communities since the beginning of time then development will consequently begin to trickle in for Zimbabwe. The stigmatisation of women leaders is based on flimsy reasons mainly derived from the traditional stereotypical roles african society has always placed upon them such as confining them to only be child bearers and looking after households.
An example of women's leadership which ushered significant change in a powerful portfolio is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Head of State for Liberia, this influential lady was a key player in ending the second Liberian civil war, she is noted today for the development she established in her country even after the post-civil war era. Another great example is Professor Wangari Maathai who became the first African woman to win the Nobel peace prize as a social environmental activist who also led a peaceful women's movement against the Kenyan government.
The only way forward l see that will release us from the bondage of failure as a nation would be to give support towards proper things,setting a tone towards a paradigm shift that will support and encourage women to increase their participation in leadership and government, African women are the hardest hit in terms of this discrimination most particularly so in Zimbabwe. We must therefore enter 2015 seeking to amass greater developmental funding to assist us to overcome our constraints. There is a new generation of women leaders who are bold visionaries with abilities to change the ill fortunes of our beloved nation and restore it into a relevant global actor.A good portion of these can confront and resolve the challenges of our period and as such may just prove to be our much awaited answer in curbing corruption. Women should be given an opportunity to flourish and be an alternative strategy for sustainable development.
Source - Minenhle Gumede
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