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Zimbabwe’s problems: It’s the corruption, stupid!

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“Democracy must be built through open societies that share information. When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption, subjugation, indignation, poverty and suffering” – Atifete Jahjaga
WITHOUT corruption we would be one of the most prosperous countries on the African continent. A simplistic reductionist statement which holds true anyway you look at it. The root of all our social, economic and governance problems is corruption which is now institutionalized and is devouring the economy. In my last article I explained how US$4 billion of diamonds were exported under the guise of “coke and semi-coke coal exports” and “unused stamps” from 2006 to 2011. For everyone’s easy reference I’ve decided to copy and paste some of the tables which can easily be obtained from the World Bank website: (http://wits.worldbank.org/CountryProfile/Country/ZWE/Year/2006/Summary). The same data can be cross verified with the IMF, the UN or even Zimstats itself. Please note that the figures on the table are in US$ thousands, so logically you have to multiply all figures by 1000 for the actual reported export value.

The other tables for Zimbabwe’s exports for the following years can be found on the World Bank website, which I’ve summarized below:

In 2007 it was US$368 million of “Unused postage, Stamps”
In 2008 (year of elections), there were no anomalies.
In 2009 it was US$435 million of “Unused postage, Stamps”
In 2010 it was US$559 million of “Unused postage, Stamps”
In 2011 it was US$392 million of “Unused postage, Stamps”
In 2012 it was US$657 million of “Industrial Diamonds” and we were no longer exporting “Used Stamps”.

Despite having the information at hand, and everyone being able to check to see if what I was claiming was actually true, what surprised me the most was the responses from some readers; some ludicrously claiming that I was MI6 (James Bond), others claiming I was paid by Rhodesians to write propaganda (read my previous article on Great Zimbabwe), and the best one was the claim that I was a disgruntled Zanu PF supporter who was part of the factional fighting now dishing out the dirt. Wow!Advertisement

My birth certificate says I was born in St Mary’s Maternity Clinic, Harare, and there is nothing particularly special about me. However, I do know the tactics; the first step is to discredit the person who reveals the truth, when that fails the next step is to discredit the information provided; when that fails just plain deny it; if all of the aforementioned fail then just resort to violence (the default mode); this is Zanu PF’s modus operandi. It is a tried and tested strategy which works each and every time, but for how long?
For a start I could never be a Zanu PF supporter because you have to be below a certain intellectual threshold to qualify. The other claims are not worth responding to. However, this definitely explains why we Zimbabweans are so gullible and easily fooled by these politicians and gospel entrepreneurs. We have become so brainwashed that we are no longer objective, analytical nor can we effectively focus on issues at hand. Even when the truth slaps you upside the head, you still have to look around to see who done it. Even if you see the numbers yourself you still deny it.
The truth of the matter is that I simply set out to discredit the sanctions propaganda, and whilst looking for a trend in declining tobacco exports (due to the fast track land reform) I saw the US$2.2 billion in coal exports at the end of 2006 which didn’t make sense. When I checked the volume of our coal exports, and price per tonne in 2006, it only came out to a maximum of US$11 million, which was also confirmed by this article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/23/AR2006092300600_pf.html).
So I checked it and rechecked it and I still came to the same conclusion. I had my Eureka moment when I decided to check the year in which the Marange diamond fields came under government control. My suspicion was confirmed when I realized that it was in 2006, the same year in which the coal exports didn’t add up. It was really that simple. Then to make sure I was not about to make any unfounded claims, I decided to look for other anomalies in the following years and saw the “Unused Postage Stamps”, which also didn’t make any sense. The rest was lateral and critical thinking, connecting the dots and then backing my claims. There is no angle to this. I challenge anyone to dispute the facts that I’ve stated and stop trying to divert people’s attention. WHERE IS THE MONEY? The truth is incontrovertible; you may attack it, you may deride it, but in the end – there it is!
Please do not ask me stupid questions like where did the money go, if I knew I’d tell you. I do not have access to any of Zanu PF’s Swiss bank accounts. The only way we’ll ever find out is through a whistleblower that has nothing to lose. It would not surprise me in the least bit if Zanu PF has the audacity to claim that this was part of their sanctions busting measures, which would be convenient were it not a blatant lie. You see, in 2006 the only real sanctions in place were ZIDERA, which cut off Zanu PF’s credit lines from international lending institutions and the EU restrictive measures targeted on about 90 people. This did not prevent anyone from importing and exporting freely. The ZMDC only came under the EU restrictive measures in February 2009, when the West realized that the thieving had reached ridiculous proportions, which makes the sanctions argument nonsensical as the diamond exports began in 2006.
Those with selective amnesia tend to conveniently forget that the reason Zanu PF could not export these diamonds at the time was due to the human rights abuse allegations (Zanu PF’s modus operandi) which occurred in bringing the Marange diamond fields under their control, and their non-compliance with the basic requirements for transparency requested by the Kimberely process. This had absolutely nothing to do with sanctions, no matter which way anyone tries to spin it. When a whole government is a de facto criminal organization, why are they surprised by such repercussions? Even if we give Zanu PF the benefit the doubt, can they please account for the money and tell everyone how they spent it?
For those who are economically illiterate, exports do not necessarily translate to money going into government coffers, as most entities, or private companies, only pay corporate taxes (not sure if this applies to exports) and keep the rest of their earnings. Was the US$4billion used to pay civil servants, doctors, nurses, pay for medication in hospitals? Was it used to build new hospitals and buy medical equipment? Was this money used to build new schools, provide new textbooks, social services, pay for farming inputs, can they account for the money somehow? Why is the US$1.3 billion RBZ debt trying to be foisted onto the taxpayer when Zanu PF has billions of diamond dollars sitting in an off-shore account somewhere?
As the saying goes, you can fool some of the people some of the time (mainly Zanu PF supporters) but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. A clear definitive corruption fighting strategy is required and I’d like to focus on the institutional reforms we can implement to eradicate or significantly reduce systemic corruption, grand corruption and petty corruption. If we have to be brutally honest, we cannot expect Zanu PF to fight the very same corruption that has kept them in power and is an integral part of their DNA. We cannot expect seasoned kleptomaniacs that are addicted to corruption to simply turn themselves in, confess and then play arresting officer, prosecutor, judge, jury and jailer. Put simply we cannot expect Zanu PF to fight corruption except in the exceptional cases that we are seeing at the moment where this is being used as an effective tool to purge political rivals.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (more like the Ante-up Corruption Commission) should be disbanded forthwith as it is ludicrous to expect anything meaningful to come from Zanu PF’s partner in crime. The chief executive of the ACCZ was recently jailed for 10 years for defrauding the commission of US$435,000, and I think that just sums it up. Whilst introducing the death penalty for all public officials convicted of corruption seems to be the people’s favourite; we may need to temper our emotions a bit and propose 30-year jail terms as a minimum. The following are three different approaches taken by Georgia, Liberia and Rwanda in which they managed to effectively reduce the scale of corruption with resultant economic benefits. We can pick and choose which is best suited to Zimbabwe, or incorporate all three approaches in one way or another.
GEORGIA APPROACH
Prosecution of high ranking officials
Civil society, opposition parties, and the general public need to launch an anti-corruption campaign NOW, mainly targeted at corrupt officials in the current government and closely associated business leaders. Public officials should be exposed and charged with corruption offences. The opposition can then build on this anti-corruption campaign and incorporate it as part of their overall election campaign for 2018.
Zero Tolerance Policy
We need new anti-corruption legislation to be passed, and an anti-corruption strategy and action plan developed now, promoting a zero tolerance policy. The strategy should identify corruption prevention, institutional reform, and liberalization of the business environment, the ratification and implementation of international anti-corruption conventions as well as public participation in anticorruption efforts as main priorities.
Restructuring Police Force
The campaign should also copy Georgia which undertook a complete overhaul of the Georgian police force, which was perceived as a highly corrupt institution. The Ministry was reduced by more than half (around 15,000 police personnel were fired) and the corrupt institution of the Traffic Police was disbanded. A competitive recruitment system brought in new people. Efforts should then be made to invest in training new recruits in criminal law and procedure code. Police officer salaries should then also be raised significantly.
Restructuring Public Sector
In Georgia the public sector was also dramatically cut, with the number of public sector employees dropping by almost 50%, while the salaries of the remaining civil servants increased roughly 15 fold. In an effort to create a friendly environment for investors, the new government cut the number of taxes from 21 to 6, reduced regulations and simplified procedures for doing business. Deregulation and economic liberalization reduced red tape, illegal shadow trading and widely spread tax fraud and eliminated many opportunities for petty bribery in the sectors such as registering property, licensing business and tax administration where citizens interact more frequently with the state.
Georgia has been praised by the World Bank for its efforts to streamline government regulations and reduce government interference. The government also eliminated a number of watchdog or regulatory institutions which were considered corrupt (rather than reforming existing agencies to eliminate corruption) and is now in the process of establishing new regulatory bodies. Prior to the GNU government in Zimbabwe, the civil service was at 250,000 and now it’s at 500,000 and counting, yet some people still scratch their heads and wonder why the wage bill keeps on increasing with a declining revenue base. Stupidity at its best!
Economic incentives for anti-corruption reforms
As Georgia generally lacked natural resources and large industrial enterprises, the new government had a clear understanding that foreign direct investment was crucial to economic growth. As corruption has an important impact on investment and business confidence, the government’s commitment to anti-corruption reforms can be seen as part of its efforts to create a friendly environment for investors. This contributed to an increase in Foreign Direct Investment from under US$500 million in 2004 to US$2 billion in 2007.
These types of reforms were only possible in Georgia due to a change in political leadership. Only then was an anti-corruption campaign at the core of the new government‘s political agenda and the new leadership appeared genuinely committed to introducing anti-corruption reforms. The key element of the state building project was fighting corruption and its corrosive impact on political processes and the legitimacy of the ruling regime.
LIBERIA APPROACH
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was Africa’s first female head of state and came to power in 2006. From the early days of her mandate, President Johnson-Sirleaf demonstrated strong leadership against corruption. She announced that corrupt officials would be prosecuted. She dismissed 17,000 government workers in the first months of her mandate, vowed to declare her assets and required that her appointees and cabinet members publish a list of their assets in the local press. As early as March 2006, she issued an executive order that created a code of conduct for public servants. She even went as far as to imprison her own son who was involved in corruption. These are the kind of leaders Zimbabwe desperately needs.
Other anti-corruption reforms included ensuring the independence of the General Auditing Commission, establishing the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, reforming financial management with the Public Finance Management Act, promoting transparent budget processes and assuring Liberia’s compliance with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Steps were also taken to strengthen the Public Procurement Commission, improve the governance of state-owned enterprises and address capacity challenges in the public sector. A very salient feature of Liberia’s anti-corruption efforts is the heavy involvement of the international community in the reform agenda, placing non-Liberians at the centre of the country’s internal administration.
Financial Management and accountability:
Revenues were centralised within the Ministry of Finance and funds are disbursed through controller-monitored government accounts at the Central Bank of Liberia. The IMF selects the Chief Administrator of the Central Bank to ensure that standards for transparency and fiscal accountability are met. Internationally recruited experts are placed within key agencies to establish transparent financial systems and provide technical guidance.
Budgeting and expenditure management: Reforms were implemented focusing on strengthening and clarifying budget formulation and execution procedures by building capacity, establishing robust systems and making budget information publicly available.
Procurement practices and granting of concessions: Special emphasis was placed on expending the competitive bidding process, monitoring resource flows associated with natural resources, joining the Kimberley process for diamonds and the EITI.
Control of corruption: Efforts focused on strengthening control systems to detect and prevent corruption in both the public and private sectors, through the creation of an independent anti-corruption commission.
Support to key institutions: The program envisaged strengthening key institutions responsible for managing government revenues such as the General Auditing Office, General Services Agency, the Governance Reform Commission and Contracts and Monopolies Commission.
Capacity building: This component of GEMAP focused on reforming public administration in Liberia with special emphasis on reforming the civil service through the resumption of wages and the enforcement of codes of conduct.
The combination of these efforts contributed to controlling of corruption, as reflected by the country’s Corruption Perceptions Index scores. In 2005, the country was ranked 137 of the 158 countries surveyed and in 2010 Liberia ranked 87 out of the 178. So this is achievable in a short period of 5 years.
RWANDA APPROACH
In Rwanda anti-corruption interventions have focused on several key areas:
Strengthening the legal and institutional framework
Major anti-corruption measures have taken place between 1997 and 2004, with special emphasis given to strengthening the legal and institutional framework against corruption. The legal framework to fight corruption is mostly in place, rated very strong by Global Integrity’s 2009 report, with legislation criminalising attempted corruption, extortion, passive and active bribery, bribery of foreign officials and money laundering. The government has also adopted a code of conduct and rules of disclosure for public officials, while assets declaration requirements for politicians were integrated in the 2003 constitution.
Legislation dealing with conflicts of interest and protection of whistleblowers still requires strengthening. Strong oversight institutions have also been created such as the Auditor General Office in 1999 and an effective Ombudsman Office in 2004 which operates as an Anti-corruption agency except that it does not have prosecution powers. The National Tender Board created in 1997 to implement the government’s public procurement policy was replaced in 2008 by the Public Procurement Agency which is granted a policy and oversight role. The country has also embarked on a reform of the judiciary to promote more independent and competent courts, including inspection mechanism and disciplinary sanctions to fight internal corruption.
Zero tolerance policy
The government has also been praised for the strong stance it takes on corruption, as reflected by its vigorous implementation of a zero tolerance policy at all levels of the public sector. In 2004, for example, all 503 members of the Rwandan judiciary were dismissed, allegedly for corruption and incompetence related matters. In 2007, 62 police officers were dismissed for soliciting bribes. An increasing number of senior officials are also being prosecuted for corruption related crimes, although observers argue that it is difficult to determine whether the prosecutions are legitimate or politically motivated.
Public service reform
Since 1997, the government has implemented far reaching public sector reforms, including rapid downsizing by about two thirds with the dismissal of 6,000 inadequately qualified employees, the removal of 6,500 ghost workers. Benefits have been monetised and salaries increased, while new public service laws have been enacted. Since 2005, there has been greater focus on pay reform, improved human resource management as well as training and capacity building. Recruitments are increasingly done on the basis of competitive tests, following objective criteria and institutions have internal and external audit systems.
Public Finance Management (PFM): The government has also committed to establish a sound PFM system but this is still an area that needs further strengthening.
Improving government effectiveness: Most sources agree that Rwanda has also achieved remarkable progress in improving overall governance structures; especially in terms of government effectiveness and transparency of the regulatory framework. Rwanda has streamlined administrative procedures, reducing bureaucratic controls and registration requirements bureaucratic which contributed to reduce red tape and opportunities for petty bribery. As a result, the country boasts one of the most effective bureaucracies and civil service in the region.
Funding a new Anti-Corruption Committee

Why do we not have a fixed levy of say 0.5% form our taxes to fund the Anti-Corruption Committee of Zimbabwe (ACCZ)? From our US$4 billion national budget, this will come to about US$20 million. The management of these funds should be outsourced to a country which has no political ties to Zimbabwe. This will ensure the total independence of the ACCZ. Members of the ACCZ should also declare all their assets, with bank statements and financial reports being made public before being hired and then being monitored during their tenure. Accountability and competence are the key words here. If there is no integrity in the ACCZ, then there will be no confidence on the part of the citizenry, without public participation, the AACZ will simply be dead in the water as is currently the case.
Conclusion
We don’t have to reinvent the wheel to come up with effective strategies to eradicate corruption. There needs to be a unity of purpose from all sound minded Zimbabweans who truly want a new prosperous Zimbabwe. I would also like to provide my humble suggestions to ALL opposition political parties grappling in the dark for a new direction. I would urge them to unite beyond a common cause with a clear strategy. The following are vital in turning around our social, political and economic situation:
1. Anti-corruption strategy: As the key election campaign issue, the basis of which can be taken from what I’ve indicated above, with more detailed information as per the following link: (http://www.giaccentre.org/cost_of_corruption.php)
2. Inclusive Democracy: As a new democratic dispensation to allow active participation in policy implementation and the economic decisions by all Zimbabweans. I wrote about this extensively in one of my previous articles.
3. Import-substitution re-industrialization: As a growth and job-generating economic policy. Our re-industrialization should be based on our natural resources, and will provide us with a comparative advantage. Industrialization provides higher productivity and higher paying jobs.
The biggest problem with the main opposition parties in Zimbabwe at the moment is that they fail to appreciate that even multi-party democracy still concentrates power and capital in the hands of a few with disastrous effects. As a result the main opposition party has suffered from incessant splits and disagreements, because they erroneously believed that one man could bring the democratic change. It has to be a collective effort.
The reason why Zanu PF “wins” is because they will always change the political playing field. Whether through vote rigging, outright violence and intimidation, redefining voting constituencies’ boundaries, placing fewer polling stations in opposition dominated constituencies, using land and food handouts for vote buying. Right now they are probably planning for the next elections of 2018 instead of prioritizing the economy and job creation. They want power for power’s sake and to allow them to continue to loot with impunity.
The opposition parties need to think 5 steps ahead. I, for one, do not buy into the whole Nikuved election story. Why is it that almost two years after the election, no one has actually explained how the elections were Nikuved? If it was a case of the voter’s roll, why did the MDC not take the hard copies they were provided with for each constituency and compile their own electronic role, by now they would have finished and would be able to adequately explain in detail how the election was Nikuved as they claim.
If the civil society and opposition political parties are truly for the people and have their best interests at heart, then they will see the logic in what I suggested through Inclusive Democracy in one of my previous articles. I proposed to remove the Executive President position from government (and democratic political parties) and have an Executive Council which consists of 5 members elected from Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces (which I collapsed into Matabeleland, Manicaland, Midlands, Mashonaland and Masvingo).
There would then be a rotational leadership whereby each year each member of the Executive Council would have a turn in assuming the role of “Presidency”, but would not have any “powers” above those of the other 4 members. So for example, in a grand coalition of all opposition political parties you could have Ncube/Dabengwa (Matabeleland) as “president” for the first year, Tsvangirai (Masvingo) for another year, Simba Makoni (Manicaland) for another year, Mutambara (Midlands) for another year and Tendai Biti/Elton Mangoma (Mashonaland) another year.
Please spare me the expletives; this is just an example to show how such a set-up of an Executive Council would function under an inclusive democracy. Like I said before, these people should be elected and not imposed. All executive decisions by the Executive Council would be by majority vote (3 to 2 or whatever); however power would always be from the people, devolved to the provinces in a type of federation as in Switzerland. My previous article details how inclusive democracy would work: (https://www.newzimbabwe.com/opinion-20220-Inclusive%20Democracy%20Power%20to%20the%20People/opinion.aspx).
There needs to be less talk, sloganeering and politicking, the time for real concrete affirmative action is now. If we want a truly prosperous and democratic Zimbabwe, then we need to have a unity of purpose and understand that only we can bring about the change we want to see.