By Whitlaw Mugwiji
Former Hong Kong anti-corruption administrator Bertrand de Speville in his book Overcoming Corruption says, political will is the key driver in fighting corruption. I could not agree more with this statement, more so in regards to Zimbabwe where we have all the tools to deal with corruption decisively, yet under Mugabe’s administration, corruption continues to thrive and soar.
There can be no doubt, that as a nation we lack collective will to fight corruption, unfortunately we lack it in political abundance. Mugabe might have forced our weak institutions to pursue his narrow personal interests but we must admit that collectively as a citizenry we have been unable to hold this government to account for its sins against corruption.
Just a week ago, more than 150 000 Romanians braced minus temperatures, occupying Bucharest’s public squares in protest over parliament’s loosening of graft regulations. But here in Zimbabwe, even after the president publicly confessed, that his government appointees in cahoots with the diamond mining firms looted billions of our US dollars through underhand dealings, we still could not assemble 15 000 protesters.
We might have been cowed into submission, citizens might appear uninterested and unconcerned but in their hearts, they know they are being screwed by their government. Many a people have attributed Mugabe’s lack of political will to fight corruption akin to Machiavelli’s political gamesmanship. Yes, he is shrewd, that we cannot take away from him and it is also agreed, he has used corruption quite effectively, entrenching cronyism and in the process buying loyalty for himself. But corruption for Mugabe has not just been a political tool to entrench his rule, he is the godfather of corruption, the commander in thief.
Kereke apology directed at Gono or Mugabe?
Last week Munyaradzi Kereke, a convicted rapist, was in the Sunday Mail offering an apology to his estranged former boss Gideon Gono, whom he accused of stealing tens of millions at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). Yes, that very same RBZ Governor who is close friends with the Mugabe family.
We common earthlings can be at times so slow to connect the dots. We must ask ourselves, since when have prominent Zanu PF members been arrested for serious crimes? The law has failed to catch up with many known Zanu PF murderers, some have even been promoted to higher offices within the government. What could be so special about Kereke that got him arrested, is the question we must ask.
I am in agreement with mukoma Lance Guma when he said in one of his Facebooks posts that Kereke offered Gono that apology because he believes his incarceration has everything to do with his public fight with Gono. Let’s face it, Gideon Gono might have wanted that apology and retraction badly but we all know, he does not have power to free Kereke. The mere fact that he failed to secure his senator-ship on a technicality speaks to this fact. Zanu PF has never been stopped from doing anything by a mere technicality. It’s purely conjecture but I content that apology was directed at none other than Robert Mugabe. Hold your horses dear reader and allow me the opportunity to back up my point.
If you might have forgotten, let me remind you then, Gideon Gono was Mugabe’s personal banker both from his days at the helm of Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe and during his tenure as the head of the central bank. When Kereke began his tirade against Gono’s corrupt activities he became a threat not only to Gono but to the entire first family and their underhand activities. Exposing corruption of the president’s personal banker is literally no different from exposing the president himself.
This explains why Grace Mugabe in her wisdom or lack thereof did not waste time but waded into this fiasco. Her utterances are a public record. She was very clear she wanted Kereke to be arrested and the prosecutor general gone for refusing to prosecute Kereke.
Mugabe runs his party and government like some sort of secret society. As you might know, thieves as individuals do not have honour but they do not kiss and tell. Kereke being a Zanu PF member is simply paying the price for his loud mouth whether he committed that rape or not is beside the point.
Mugabe the commander in thief
I might have come across to some as a little overzealous in calling Mugabe the commander in thief or associating his rule to that of a mafia boss but let’s rewind and take a closer look at him and his family. There have been very few scandals in this country that either Mugabe or his relations have not been involved in.
The late Sally Mugabe was involved in the ‘Willogate scandal’ and through Mugabe’s chicanery the report by the commission which investigated this scandal was never made public. The late mai Mugabe and several hundred other senior government officials abused a government facility meant to allow them to purchase a vehicle at wholesale price instead they bought and resold the vehicles at a profit at the expense of the government. It is rumoured that Maurice Nyagumbo was killed for threatening to expose Sally Mugabe’s involvement in the scandal.
Mugabe’s brother in law, the late Reward Marufu, was fingered among many other beneficiaries for looting huge sums of money from the War Victims Compensation Fund, through falsifying injuries and exaggerating his disability.
In 1995, senior government officials looted millions of dollars contributed by civil servants in the ‘pay for your house scheme’, disguised as loans and shattering the scheme in the process. Upon investigation, Grace Mugabe and other 185 senior government officials were found to have benefitted illegally from the housing scheme at the expense of genuine members.
We have heard Mugabe on several occasions lambasting multiple farm ownership yet together with his wife they own over 13 farms according to the list released by the MDC last year in September. Fighting corruption to Mugabe is nothing but just a slogan because he is the godfather of corruption.
At some point, we must draw a line somewhere even in the sand
Fay Chung in her book Reliving the second Chimurenga posits that the Willogate ‘trial’ proved to Mugabe that humiliating members of the ruling elite in public alone was an adequate way of dealing with corruption. Publicly shaming individuals in the state newspapers and at rallies might be satisfactory to Mugabe and his gullible supporters but it has not helped in the fight against corruption. The 2016 Corruptions Perceptions Index by Transparent International ranked Zimbabwe at 150 out of 163 countries surveyed over corruption, with number one being the least corrupt.
We must at some point draw the line even in the sand and admit that collectively as citizens of the republic, we have allowed this scourge to spread undeterred. Now even the vice president Mphoko has no shame in asking for the disbandment of anti-corruption commission.
As Maya Angelou said if you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. The first step to dealing with corruption in country is to stop expecting Mugabe and Zanu PF to fight corruption. Our country is being run by thieves if we are serious in fighting corruption we must join hands with all progressive forces to remove Zanu PF from power. We must make corruption and maladministration our key Zanu PF de-campaigning themes going into 2018.
- Whitlaw Mugwiji is a political analyst and social commentator for Khuluma Afrika