Story by Mukachana Hanyani
Zimbabweans have been made to believe that the scourge of sanctions imposed in the country by the western countries more than a decade ago were behind the demise of the Zimbabwean economy yet corruption was silently abetting them. Corruption which was hitherto not talked about with only bigwigs in government talking about sanctions as behind causing economic problems now has manifested itself as the main monster in the demise of our economy. Talking about sanctions as behind the economic demise of Zimbabwe is no longer admissible to the public but corruption is now on everyone`s lips.
Although sanctions played their part in destroying the economic development of Zimbabwe but the issue of corruption in the country has taken over and everyone is quite aware that corruption has become a cancer which needs everyone to fight it. Now it should be the prerogative of every Zimbabwean to get a stance against corruption so that the country is rid of such vice. Ordinary Zimbabweans cannot suffer just because some bigwigs in the public service are untouchables. Those people have been fleecing the economy hiding behind sanctions and now that sanctions have been overtaken by corruption in causing the economic doldrums there is need for the government to deal decisively with those economic saboteurs.
The report in The Sunday Mail of 5 June 2016 that government was now in the major anti-corruption blitz targeting ministries, parastatals, Harare city Council and some House Cooperatives could not have come at a better time considering that Zimbabwe is facing financial crisis caused by the same bigwigs in government. The government needs to be serious on this initiative of bringing to book those who would be caught on the wrong side of the law. Zimbabweans have not enjoyed the sweat of their work because they have been reeling under sanctions with corruption abetting the demise of the economic development here. Now that the government has now taken steps to curb corruption in the public offices as well as some parastatals there is need for the same government to act expeditiously on that route taken. Talking about corruption without action against it is not helpful to the economy.
Zimbabwe is in dire need of foreign direct investment which could make the economic turnaround of this country viable but such a move cannot be possible if a country is full of corrupt individuals who always see the coming of any investor in the country as an opportunity for both top public and private sector officials to fatten their wallets. There have been hope that some mega deals which Zimbabweans were made to believe that they would turn around the economic fortunes of Zimbabwe would help but since then nothing has materialised. Bar and public talks over why such deals have not materialised were that bureaucracy coupled with corrupt tendencies by those handling such deals have curtailed everything resulting in them frozen with no explanation.
Now it is incumbent upon the government to institute laws which empower every citizen to police each other on issues to deal with corruption as a necessary measure to get rid of it in the country. In many times, public officials have been seen on the wrong side of the law trying to illegally enrich themselves through corrupt means but no arrests have been made to some bigwigs in government. The same bigwigs in government have been preaching that the demise of the economy was due to sanctions forgetting that even corruption has played havoc to the economic development of Zimbabwe. For that reason the government should descent heavily on those found to be corrupt so that the country is corrupt free.
Zimbabwe should emulate our all-weather friend China in her many efforts of eradicating corruption within her ranks. China deal decisively with corrupt officials within government without favour and as a result the Chinese government has managed to make its economy to flourish well. That Asian giant has a zero tolerance on corruption so Zimbabwe should do likewise as a means to make sure that the country becomes corruption free. It should be known that there is no crime in emulating what our all weatherly friend is doing in eradicating corruption.
As a means to show that China has zero tolerance in corruption, in 20014, the Chinese authorities seized some assets worth at least fourteen and half billion United States of America dollars (US$14, 5 Billion) from more than three hundred (300) relatives and close associates of one, a retired domestic security Tsar, Zhou Yongkang, who was reportedly at the centre of China`s biggest corruption scandals. The seizure of such assets by the Chinese government from Zhou Yongkang`s close associates because of his corrupt activities could be taken as a lesson here. Zimbabweans need such route be taken by the Zimbabwean government go wards those bigwigs who are corrupt. Talking about corruption without action taken against the culprits is no longer acceptable as it has become monotonous.
In fact, the Chinese government has laws which make one to be sentenced to capital punishment if he/she is convicted of corruption despite his/her political standing in society. China has come up with no scared cows’ policy when it comes to dealing with corruption so Zimbabwe should do the same. Coming up with laws that deal decisively against corruption by the Zimbabwean government would also help in luring investors to come here. China makes sure that corruption investigations are carried out on everyone regardless of the status of such an individual in society. The issue of some individuals being said to be untouchables in the Chinese government or parastatals is not there when it comes to the investigations of corruption among them.
Actually, China has been active in curbing corruption by targeting even high profile people in society showing the world that she has a zero tolerance to corruption. In 2013, Bo Xilai, who was one of the top politicians in that country, was sentenced to life in prison on bribery charges, fifteen (15) years for embezzlement of funds and seven years for abuse of power, leaving him with nothing but to face a jail as his new home until death. Surprisingly incessant talk by government officials in the country denouncing corruption has yielded nothing. Zimbabwe has never brought to book any top government official found to be corrupt as if the country is safe on that field.
Now that the government through the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission has started the ball rolling by investigating corrupt activities in various ministries, parastatals as well as in the Harare City Council and some Housing Cooperatives people are eagerly waiting to see where the operation would end. It would not be proper for the operation to end without any major shake-ups or arrests in those targeted sectors as a lot is in the public domain that has been happening. People are aware of some bigwigs who within months in government have turned millionaires at the time when the economy is not performing well. So the government should be serious on that front so that Zimbabwe becomes corrupt free like what the Chinese government is boasting about today.