By Ashton Bumhira
The government of Zimbabwe needs to move with speed and arrest those who looted the National Youth Fund and never returned a cent.
Recently Newsday reported that the fund lost $211 000 that was invested through Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) to Kadungure Piggery at Nyahoni in Chivhu after the project was badly run and incurred serious losses.
Millions of dollars under the Youth Development Fund have gone down the drain, looted by youths from mostly Zanu-PF and senior government officials who fooled the banks with ghost project proposals to get money from the fund.
According to local media reports the Economic Development minister Obert Mpofu in Matabeleland North is being accused of having used his influence to get his relatives to benefit from the fund. More than 15 beneficiaries used the Mpofu surname, to defraud the government youth fund facility.
The former minister in the Vice President’s office Flora Buka is also reported to have allegedly used her influence to facilitate youth aligned to herself access to the youth funds.
Sport Minister Makhosini Hlongwane was given $32 380 from a Stanbic youth loan when he was 38 years old, older than the cut off age of 35 years.
This is all coming out during a fact-finding mission by the parliament portfolio committee on youth development, indigenization and economic empowerment chaired by Gokwe-Nembudziya MP Justice Wadyajena that is conducting a public hearing.
This is not normal. The Constitution of Zimbabwe sets a clear national objective, which says that “Measures must be taken to expose, combat and eradicate all forms of corruption and abuse of power by those holding political and public offices”.
This is a call to action for everyone in Zimbabwe, not just the government, to take on and drive out corruption. With the economy in constant decline thousands of youths are desperate to have access to new loans but will not get anything as result of this massive youth fund scandal. It’s sad that a lot of corruption scandals are reported through newspapers and it seems the stories just end there.
It appears that only the less powerful are being brought to book while notoriously dirty giants masquerade as clean men. Delays or failure to curb corruption will eventually ruin Zimbabwe. Corruption is a significant contributor to Zimbabwe’s economic decay, destroyed the country and caused long-suffering to the Zimbabwean youth. It is killing this country and we can’t leave it like that. If youth could all raise their voices, corrupt people and officials would be arrested. President Mugabe must take measures as the president to expose, combat and eradicate all forms of corruption and abuse of power by those holding political and public offices. That alone will demonstrate his sincerity to fight and curb corruption.
The Constitution established the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to deliver on the promise to purge the nation of corruption, in the words of its motto to “refuse, resist and report”.
In the face of corruption, Zimbabwe needs a trusted, robust and fair champion of the citizen. Government and the Commission itself have a responsibility, to ensure ZACC’s independence, and also to ensure that the independence is visible and that the Commission is clearly distinct from party political and factional considerations.
While the government at every level of Zimbabwe must lead the fight against corruption, every citizen can do something. Everyone can be a citizen journalist, an anti-corruption activist. Everyone can refuse, resist and report. It is not only possible but essential.
Transparency International today rates Zimbabwe as one of the most corrupt States on earth. I do not dispute that finding, but very few have any understanding of either the aggregate cost or the implications for our country. One estimate of the overall cost of corrupt activities in Zimbabwe puts it at US$80 to US$90 billion since Independence in 1980. That is slightly more than two billion dollars a year.
Let me leave you with the words of Karl Kraus; an Austrian writer and poet. Kraus said: ‘Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual; the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country.’
Ashton Bumhira is the Youth Forum Zimbabwe Programs Manager and you can get in touch with him on his email address: firstname.lastname@example.org