By Byron Mutingwende
Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) has said there has for a long time been sufficient rhetoric about prosecuting the implicated hence the need for immediate action towards that move if corruption is to be eradicated from society.
“For a long time the media has been awash with ample evidence implicating political elites and top business executives in corruption. Not so long ago, shocking misappropriation of funds was unearthed at companies like Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO), Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), public health insurer Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS), the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (ZIMDEF) and most recently the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA).
“In political circles, shocking revelations of massive accumulation of wealth by the elites in government were exposed by spouses of the elites when they exposed assets owned by their partners in courts to claim maintenance as divorce settlement. All these are evidence enough to guarantee prosecution. On many public for a, the President denounces corruption but we haven’t heard of any high profile arrests despite the overwhelming evidence against the implicated. It’s high time this rhetoric needs to be changed into action,” said Mary Jane Ncube, the TIZ Executive Director.
Ncube’s sentiments come after President Mugabe was reported to have given the green light for law enforcement agencies to arrest senior State and public officials who engage in corrupt activities, with the courts able to jail them for up to five years upon conviction.
According to The Sunday Mail of 30 October 2016, Mugabe also empowered permanent secretaries of ministries to fully oversee the financial management of public entities and statutory funds.
The call was contained in the Government Gazette published on the 21st of October 2016 which stipulated a jail term for up to five years for public sector officials convicted of accepting monetary or other benefits “inconsistent with discharge of duty”, such as tokens of appreciation, travel, fuel, holiday, management committee and trustee allowances.
The Government Gazette said President Mugabe had signed into law the Public Finance Management Amendment Act (Chapter 22:19) with the new provisions.
“Zimbabwe, in my view has sufficient laws necessary to deal with the corrupt. The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land goes to great length in prescribing principles of transparency and integrity expected from holders of public positions.
“These Government Gazettes and proclamations go the extra mile of prescribing the necessary conduct expected from officials and chief executives of public entities. What really lacks is the political will to enforce the respect of and execution of the law in addressing corruption,” said Farai Mutondoro, the TIZ Senior Researcher.
Over and above that, the country has the National Code of Corporate Governance (ZimCode), which discourages multiple directorships in institutions, prescribes limits for board chairmanship and discourages concentration of corporate power in one person.
It is clear in ZimCode that management should not exercise activities that promote conflict of interest. The same goes to prescribe limit for obscene remuneration for the executives and encourages corporate disclosure.
Despite the existence of such a fertile ground for combatting corruption, The Zimbabwe Independent of 28 October to 3 No0vember 2016 reported that an audit into the goings-on at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) had exposed massive corruption, fraud, poor corporate governance and tax evasion scandals within the authority with shocking revelations that Treasury was prejudiced of more than US$20 million.
“Corruption has become a daily chorus in Zimbabwe. From top government officials to corporate executives, corruption has become the order of the day. They loot with impunity, the economy taking a knock in the process. We have heard numerous calls from the President himself (including the 10 Point Plan), which sets the agenda for economic revival that corruption is an impediment to development, which needs to be nipped from the bud.
“At the end of the day what do we get?: The promotion or re-assignment of the implicated to other feeding troughs where they can extend their filthy hands for looting. We need to see the first major scalps of the drivers of corruption by seeing them rotting in Chikurubi Maximum Prison,” said Ncube.