CORRUPTION is simply defined as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain” according to Transparency International. Corruption can be classified as grand, petty and political, depending on the amounts of money lost and the sector where it occurs.
The Zimbabwean Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) is a body that was established after the passing of the Anti-Corruption Commission Bill in June 2004. The Commission is a signatory to the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Protocol as well as the African Union (AU) and United Nations Convention on Anti-Corruption. However, according to a 2009 report by Global Integrity, the Commission is highly inefficient and “has very little authority to take steps aimed at stopping corruption in Zimbabwe.”
Section 254 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No. 20 0f 2013 gives ZACC the mandate to fight corruption. This body may be referred to as the Constitutional watchdog fighting and combating corruption through investigations and prosecution through the assistance of the police and the National Prosecuting Authority.
However, it seems that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has been fighting a losing battle, or to better put it, it is just a toothless bulldog. It is appalling to note that a body conferred with so much power by the highest law of the land has failed to use those powers to the best of its abilities.
On 24 October 2016 the Chief of Staff Administration in the Zimbabwe National Army, Major General Douglas Nyikayaramba made an interesting statement before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Security, saying:
“Corruption is a cancer which is taking the nation backwards, thereby causing insecurity to the nation… the ordinary citizens expect authorities to address these issues, but if nothing happens to the alleged criminals, they will end up being ungovernable and creating problems for the defence forces. Development is being derailed so that individuals can benefit at the expense of the whole nation.” Advertisement
Indeed, if the defence forces are also affected by corruption it then shows that corruption has now become, not only a problem within the economic and political sector, but has become a national security threat as well. However, Nyikaramba’s statement before the Parliamentary committee has to be read within the context of the raging factional divide within the ruling Zanu PF political party. This is more because, not too long ago, some very high ranking military officers in the ZNA have been directly linked to the massive looting of diamonds in the Marange and Chiadzwa mining fields.
Zimbabwe was the 150 least corrupt nations out of 175 countries, according to the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International. Corruption Rank in Zimbabwe averaged 117.89 from 1998 until 2015, reaching an all-time high of 166 in 2008 and a record low of 43 in 1998. Transparency International claims that corruption is costing Zimbabwe USD1 billion a year. It further claims that African states lose perhaps USD60 billion a year to corrupt practices although this might actually be an underestimate.
According to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, “…the prevalence of corruption and fraudulent activities in our society is unacceptable and can only derail the efforts that are in place to achieve the goals set out in the Constitution” (Herald, October 26, 2016). The cancer of corruption that is eating into Zimbabwe’s public service delivery system, if not dealt with, will totally decimate the country’s economy.
That 22 Government ministries have been founding wanting on poor corporate governance, abuse of fund accounts and flouting procurement procedures was never an interesting read. Painfully, only 10 Government ministries were given a thumb up by the Auditor General’s office. Ironically, the officials at the same corrupt ministries were never held accountable but rather, they blame government for failing to provide adequate resources to operate efficiently!
This just goes to show that combating corruption will forever be a losing battle as ‘the big guys’ themselves, that is the Cabinet ministers, are also involved in corruption. The Auditor – General report and many other visible signs provide overwhelming evidence that there is need for momentous changes in most ministries and parastatals. Transparency in financial and resource management deserves far greater attention in Zimbabwe than it has so far received. The implications for not doing so have far reaching consequences.
Various scandals have afflicted Zimbabwe in the past and these include:
– the Paweni scandal (1982),
– National Railways Housing Scandal (1986),
– Air Zimbabwe Fokker Plane Scandal worth $100 million (1987),
– Zisco Steel Blast Furnace Scandal (1987),
– Willowgate Scandal (1988),
– ZRP Santana Scandal (1989),
– War Victims Compensation Scandal (1994),
– GMB Grain Scandal (1995), VIP Housing Scandal (1996),
– Boka Banking Scandal (1998),
– ZESA YTL Soltran Scandal (1998),
– Harare City Council Refuse Tender Scandal (1998),
– Housing Loan Scandal (1999),
– Noczim Scandal (1999),
– DRC timber and diamond UN reported scandals (1999),
– GMB Scandal (1999),
– Ministry of Water and Rural Development Chinese tender scandal (1999),
– Harare Airport Scandal (2001),
– pillaging and milking of Ziscosteel (2005-8),
– the Airport Road Scandal (2008-2014)
– PSMAS 2015 saga,
– ZBC saga,
– Zimdef (USD450 000.00) 2016 saga and
– ZIMRA saga to name but a few.
President Robert Mugabe himself admitted that the government could not account for the US$15 billion which had been generated by the sale of diamonds in Marange. “We have not received much from the diamond industry at all. I don’t think we have exceeded $2 billion, yet we think more than $15 billion has been earned … Lots of smuggling and swindling has taken place and the companies that have been mining, I want to say, robbed us of our wealth,” These were the words of the President during celebrations to mark his 92nd birthday.
It is clear that this is a case of corruption and gross mismanagement of national resources. The whole area of Marange and its residents never benefitted anything from the diamonds which were being mined in their community. This indeed shows that corruption has been a cancer eating away our resources thereby putting the development of our country to a halt, if not backwards.
Corruption impacts societies in a multitude of ways. In the worst cases, it costs lives. Short of this, it costs people their freedom, health or money. The cost of corruption can be divided into four main categories: political, economic, social and environmental.
On the political front, corruption is a major obstacle to democracy and the rule of law. In a democratic system, offices and institutions lose their legitimacy when they’re misused for private advantage. This is harmful in established democracies, but even more so in newly emerging ones. It is extremely challenging to develop accountable political leadership in a corrupt climate.
Economically, corruption depletes national wealth. Corrupt politicians invest scarce public resources in projects that will line their pockets rather than benefit communities, and prioritise high-profile projects such as dams (Tokwe Mukosi, Zambezi water project), power plants, pipelines and refineries over less spectacular but more urgent infrastructure projects such as schools, hospitals and roads. Corruption also hinders the development of fair market structures and distorts competition, which in turn deters investment.
Corruption corrodes the social fabric of society. It undermines people’s trust in the political system, in its institutions and its leadership. A distrustful or apathetic public can then become yet another hurdle to challenging corruption.
It is sad to note that Zimbabweans have since been deprived of their basic right to healthcare as most public health institutions have not been able to carry out non-emergency surgery for lack of painkillers. It has for many times been reported that there is mismanagement of funds, flouting of tender procedures as well as theft of drugs within the healthcare delivery system.
On 23 December 2013, The Herald reported that a Ministry of Health and Childcare special audit revealed that there was about 2,5 million dollars which were misused by the senior health officials which included the Provincial Health Services Administrator. On 19 September 2016, The Newsday reported that one of the largest government hospitals in Zimbabwe, Harare Central Hospital, had suspended most surgical procedures due to lack of anaesthetics. If reasons for the lack of drugs are to be ascertained after thorough investigations, it will show that corruption may have played a major part in this terrible ordeal.
Environmental degradation is another consequence of corrupt systems. The lack of, or non-enforcement of, environmental regulations and legislation means that precious natural resources are carelessly exploited, and entire ecological systems are ravaged. From mining, to logging, to carbon offsets, companies across the globe continue to pay bribes in return for unrestricted destruction. On 9 September 2012, The Standard reported that The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) and villagers living along Save River are seeking a court order to bar three diamond mining companies in Marange district from polluting water sources.
In a High Court application, ZELA and the villagers alleged that Anjin Investments, Marange Resources and Diamond Mining Corporation (DMC) were polluting Save, Singwizi and Odzi rivers with sewage, chemicals and metal deposits. This clearly shows that the Mining Industry was and/or is involved in corruption through flouting environmental regulations as a way of ´cutting corners’. It is also alleged that about one thousand cattle have died in the Eastern Highlands due to this environmental degradation mainly resulting from corruption.
A research paper written by Herbert Werlin from the University of Maryland revealed that when Ghana and South Korea both gained independence in 1957 they had almost the same GDP per capita. Ghana’s GDP was USD490.00 whilst South Korea’s was USD491.00. However, thirty years later, South Korea’s annual purchasing power per head was about ten times that of Ghana’s.
Among the reasons for the alarming difference in the economies of these two nations, corruption was the major cause why Ghana could not develop at the same rate as that of South Korea. Indeed, it shows that corruption is a cancer eating away not only this country, but the whole global world.
In conclusion, corruption, like cancer which may affect various organs of the body, has affected various aspects of the society, namely, the economy, politics, the environment, healthcare, to mention but just a few. Indeed, a losing battle is being fought as it seems that the ones who are fighting corruption are either siding with the ones involved in corruption, or they are like soldiers going for battle with guns which have no bullets. This calls for a turnaround in the way we have been fighting this battle in order for us to win it.
Obert Gutu is the national spokesman of the MDC-T party.