Tangible steps need to be taken

HARARE - In drama and film there is a nostrum that you cannot put a loaded gun on a set when you do not intend to use it.

If your script does not include a shooting scene, there is no justification for putting a gun on the set.

President Robert Mugabe put a gun on the set whose main script is to fight and root out corruption.

But the sceptic public is now beginning to doubt whether he has the intention to use it.

Since scandalous revelations of how some government bureaucrats took it upon themselves to fleece public funds and indulge in flagrant self-aggrandisement at the expense of service delivery, public expectation that government would convert its erstwhile rhetoric into decisive action has not materialised.

The public fears culprits might go scot-free.

No one seems to know what is happening while the rot appears to fester as authorities line up to admit incidents of graft but dither in taking action due to cowardice to tackle the malfeasance.

Corruption misdirects resources meant for national benefit and it is incumbent upon government to be seen to be doing something about it.

There are numerous occasions when authorities give pledges to nip corruption in the bud.

What direly lacks is the courage to speak to those pledges that have now assumed dimensions of a trite mantra at every forum.

The on-going Chinese Communist party congress is typical of what type of action Zimbabweans expect.

They wait with anticipation for the day when Mugabe will take to the podium and announce how many of his culpable officials have been removed from office for indulging in practices that “work against the will and benefit of the people”.

If the Chinese can publicly give out statistics of how many of government officials have been relieved of their duties over corruption; how many have been jailed for such misdeeds, there is no plausible reason why Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party can fail to emulate that at its national conferences.

The stigma attached to being labelled, censured or punished for corrupt practices is deterrent enough in itself. In our case, the public is justified to believe that government threats about dealing with corrupt officials are nothing more than expedient ruses and nothing else, particularly when the country has a dysfunctional and toothless Anti-Corruption Commission, hobbled by lack of arresting powers to carry out its mandate.

There is good reason among Zimbabweans to believe that government is hoping public outrage over corruption will shrivel and wither away over time owing to frustrations over its reluctance to take speedy action.

But corruption is a scourge that cannot be wished away. It has to be taken head-on.

The sooner government realises that, the better for the nation.

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