HARARE - Government fears that millions of dollars supposed to be remitted to Treasury could have been lost when officials it seconded to represent its interests in diamond mining companies connived to under-declare proceeds, serve as a pointer to the level of official graft that has hobbled the troubled nation’s march towards better times.
Other countries endowed with fewer resources than Zimbabwe have made good use of their natural resources to uplift the quality of life for the majority of their people. Our God-appropriated resources should therefore imbue us with a deep sense of pride and gratitude.
But the treacherous attitude displayed by government proxies as revealed by Mines minister, Walter Chidhakwa verges on a perverse form of national pride as has been the case with an elite clique seconded to superintend over parastatals and other quasi-governmental organisations that have abused their positions.
Chidhakwa’s remark is a frank admission that dishonesty has been allowed to fester to the detriment of enhanced resource husbandry to improve national economic health.
When coupled with calls by the Prosecutor General that government should by now have capacitated institutions mandated to fight corruption while creating an enabling legal framework if the country is to win the fight against the scourge that has become endemic, one begins to appreciate the magnitude of the problem.
In the context of past experiences in the mining sector it would be naive for government to even consider a suggestion by senior assistant commissioner Silence Pondo that if police arrest an illegal gold dealer they be allowed to retain a certain percentage of the recovered gold.
Few believe staffers in the precious mineral units are as clean as a whistle in a force where financial probity may not be widespread. The suggestion appears to fall in the same category with government proxies that have connived to under-declare proceeds to Treasury which the Mines ministry is seeking to curb.
Moreover, it would set a bad precedent when every arm of government clamours for similar privileges.
These are suggestions in pursuit of competitive prestige at a time government arms should learn to live within their means and make do with whatever resources are available. All national efforts to put Zimbabwe on the right path to prosperity will obviously come to nought unless government girds its loins and institutes radical changes in the manner it conducts its business; adopts a robust method of resource husbandry and funnels its energies towards closing every loophole that the wayward among its officials might seek to exploit.
As the Prosecutor General Johannes Tomana bluntly puts it: “Until government is able to get on top of corruption, we are not going anywhere.”