SOMETIMES living in Zimbabwe is like living in a mental asylum where the inmates are in charge. Just recently we learned that the chief executive of a local medical aid society (PMAS) has been paying himself US$200,000 a month.
In all the top eight executives in this cash-strapped, highly indebted institution, that is months behind in paying the medical profession that serves its members, over US$1 million a month in basic salaries. This implies that their total packages may be worth significantly more than this.
This news was accompanied by a story that the Board of the PMAS was going to “slash” his salary to US$60,000 a month – in itself an outrageous amount for a small organisation that cannot pay its way. In fact just recently we discovered that the State broadcasting corporation was paying its CEO a package of US$40,000 a month and that sparked outrage across the country as the ZBC had not paid its staff for months. I am told that this state of affairs prevails across the Board in Government institutions and parastatals.
We are a very poor country with a GDP of about US$16 billion – that’s about $100 a month for the average person. Here we have one individual paying himself 2000 times that as a basic wage! How do the guys at the bottom on less than $30 a month (over half the population) think about that?
I know there is an outcry about the salaries and bonuses of executives of banks in Europe – but they are dealing with organisations that employ hundreds of thousands and turnover billions on a daily basis. They also carry risk and must bear responsibility for decisions that affect whole countries – not some upgraded administrator in a tiny organisation that is in the service sector and is simply collecting fees and paying for medical services.
But this is the tip of the iceberg, just drive around the wealthy suburbs of Harare and you would think you were in Hollywood – not some low income, Fourth World State where half the population is close to starvation. Where are our socialists in all this, who is working for a more equitable world? The answer is very few.
Africa, the poorest continent in the world, has created many billionaires – most of them live in a murky world of clandestine deals and trades. Oprah Winfrey may well be challenged for the top spot as the wealthiest woman in the world by the daughter of the President of Angola although her wealth and status is unlikely to see the light of day anytime soon.Advertisement
Scourge of corruption
Then there is the scourge of corruption in Africa. There is corruption everywhere but no other continent has been infected by this particular disease on such a scale and in proportion to its wealth and production. Transparency International estimates that corrupt transfers out of Africa far exceed the total value of all foreign aid to the continent (AID is about US$40 billion a year).
Others estimate that the leadership of Angola misappropriates a third of gross oil receipts. In a recent scam in Nigeria one company was responsible for the theft of $6,9 billion in oil revenues. Even on a global basis, these are staggering sums of money.
In Zimbabwe, prior to the formation of the National Government in 2009, the majority party and its acolytes were stealing US$1,6 billion year from the State in all its many forms and was stripping the agricultural industry in a State sponsored looting spree of many billions dollars’ worth of assets accumulated over the previous 100 years by dint of hard work and enterprise by thousands of ordinary people and businessmen.
Then when the criminal elite in our midst discovered alluvial diamonds in the Marange area, the system went into overdrive. In a feeding frenzy that would rival a flock of vultures anywhere, they descended on this particular carcass and in 6 years stripped it of an estimated $12 billion in raw diamonds that flooded the world market.
Despite all the rhetoric about transparency and accountability and all the evidence of the Zimbabwean presence in the world market (experts say we supply 30 per cent of global demand in a market worth $20 billion a year), not one cent was paid to the Exchequer in 2013 and the Minister has not provided for a dime to be received in 2014. Private jets fly into the air base in Harare or land at the sophisticated facilities in Marange, they do not clear Zimbabwe customs or emigration and they refuse to allow our Tax Authorities access. How can such a situation persist in any sane country? There is no doubt in my mind, Zimbabwe is a nuthouse.
Where is the dimaond cash? … Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa