MARONDERA - Everyone knows that once you have tasted chocolate, you will never again be satisfied with a boiled sweet.
A taste of the good life among our leaders and public servants has reached epidemic proportions and it’s long past the time to stop talking and threatening but to start acting
It has been nearly two weeks since President Robert Mugabe told the sensational story of how a businessman who wanted to invest in Zimbabwe was directed to a female MP who could assist him.
The MP then proceeded to tell the businessman she required $50 000 in order to facilitate introductions to the right connections.
The businessman then approached another MP and the only difference was this time the bribe being demanded was
$70 000. Mugabe apparently fumed when he heard this: “What sort of people are we?”, he demanded adding that corruption had destroyed Africa, that a crime was a crime and corrupt people would be sent to prison.
That was a fortnight ago and still we are waiting for answers: who was the female MP who demanded a $50 000 bribe? Who was the male MP demanding a $70 000 bribe?
Have they been suspended from office? Are they being investigated? When will they be charged and their cases come to court? Zimbabweans have a right to know — we voted for these individuals to represent us in Parliament and our taxes pay their wages.
After a week of sensational headlines over the Cabinet directive that no State enterprise, parastatal or local authority boss would be allowed to earn more than $6 000 a month, there was one statement that was overlooked in the furore.
Asked why it had taken so long for government to act on the huge salaries that public sector CEO’s were being paid, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said the problem dated back to the start of the dollarisation era, when people apparently adopted the “hyperinflation mentality.” Chinamasa said:
"There was too much quarrelling in the inclusive government and we could not focus our energy on anything.’’
Too much quarrelling and unfocused energy are hardly acceptable excuses for a government not to act for five years while an orgy of looting of public money was underway.
It’s common knowledge that huge allowances, hiding behind apparently reasonable salaries, are not new. They haven’t just been happening since February 2009.
Just last week in Parliament, the MDC MP for Mabvuku and Tafara wanted to know how it was that MPs who apparently only earn $3 000 a month own three-storey houses and numerous vehicles all of which are clearly worth millions of dollars. Where did they get all their money from?
Bribery and corruption are hardly new either. Our history since independence is littered with high-profile multi-million dollar corruption scandals.
In September 2012, the Anti Corruption Trust (Act) of Southern Africa released a damning report on corruption in Zimbabwe.
They highlighted 14 “forgotten cases” which despite being publicised in the media Act say: “all seem to have been forgotten,” yet evidence in support of prosecution was abundant in most of the cases.
Included in the Act list are cases everyone remembers such as the War Victims Compensation Fund, the Willowvale Scandal, the VIP Housing Scheme Scandal and the Noczim Scandal.
ACT also exposed more recent scandals which took place during land reform and the GNU. These include diamonds, fertiliser, Kondozi, Harare airport, the Constituency Development Fund and others.
Names and details are given in the Act report, along with recommendations for action; one of which is to challenge individuals who are implicated to exonerate themselves.
In plain English: if you aren’t the one, prove it.