Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Zimbabwe: Unmasking the Myth of Corruption

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THE first leader of independent Zimbabwe in 1980, Robert Mugabe, has passed on. May his soul rest in peace

His legacy has become a contentious topic of discussion among Zimbabweans, Africans and the world in general. It is refreshing to see that Africans have resisted the urge to agree with the Western narrative that labelled him “a ruthless dictator”.

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His crime was one of omission. Failing to check his colleagues and later his wife who were accused of abusing state institutions for personal gain.

The Second Republic President Emmerson Mnangagwa

We see the same omissions happening 12 months into the Second Republic led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. He inherited Mugabe’s bureaucracy and, despite spirited pronouncements to reform it, he appears to be facing numerous challenges.

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One of the biggest challenges is the fact that corruption has over the years entrenched itself in all key institutions and is now an accepted norm in Zimbabwe. Nothing is done efficiently without some “small” incentive. Corruption has become common practice in both government and the private sector.

So, how does he fire everyone who runs key institutions without disrupting the institutional memory? Can he inspire them to change? It is becoming increasingly clear that the Zimbabwe Anti-corruption commission (Zacc) is not the solution.

What is? Maybe the solution lies in using legislation to repatriate ill-gotten gains. Starting with oneself and one’s family members maybe? Pipe dream.

Hobson’s choice… President Emmerson Mnangagwa

“You can have a white horse or a white horse … that’s Hobson’s choice!” Meaning you have no choice at all. The only option you have is the one that is being offered to you. There is no doubt Mnangagwa means well!

The question is: how does he destroy what he helped build? The truth is our incumbent is tainted by past collaborations and associations. He also vowed to protect Mugabe after assuming power, dead or alive. His hands are tied. He will never eradicate corruption amongst his peers.

He may arrest a few big fish as sacrificial lambs, but he will not dismantle the system that enables and fuels corruption. That is the tragedy.

How did corruption take root?

So, how did corruption take root in Zimbabwe? Why is it embedded in all state institutions including the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC)?

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