ED ups ante on corruption

HARARE - Government has promised to deal decisively with corruption, as it ups the ante in its fight against the scourge that has brought the country to its knees.

Delivering his inaugural State-of-the-Nation Address (Sona) since his appointment as the country’s president last month, President Emmerson Mnangagwa did not mince his words yesterday, saying stern measures would be taken against those involved in corrupt activities, irrespective of their positions in society.

“Corruption remains the major source of some of the problems we face as a country and its retarding impact on national development can never be over-emphasised. The goal of my government is to build a new Zimbabwe based on the crown values of honesty, transparency, accountability and hard work,” he said before a joint session of the lower and upper house that met at a Harare hotel.

“In this new era, measures are being taken to vigorously spearhead the e-government programme, not only as a means to keep in step with the ICT revolution, but also to fight corruption.”

The e-government initiative is being complemented by efforts to boost Internet connectivity throughout the country.

“On individual cases of corruption, every case must be investigated and punished in accordance with the dictates of our laws. There should be no sacred cows. My government will have a zero tolerance on corruption and this has already begun. Economic developments require a clean government, a clean private sector,” he said.

Corruption has become endemic in the country and a major cause of poverty.

Statutory bodies such as the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission have been rendered toothless bulldogs by those in power who have previously acted with impunity.

The Sona, which is a constitutional obligation, is meant to give an update to Parliament and the nation at large on the policies the president plans to put in place to fix the challenges confronting the country.

With Zimbabwe having been ranked 150 out of 168 countries, according to a report included in the 2015 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Mnangagwa had a reason to dedicate part of his address on the need to fight graft.

Transparency International, which publishes the CPI, said Zimbabwe was failing to take control of corruption, which has permeated several public and private institutions, resulting in the loss of several millions of dollars.

Mnangagwa also warned councils against illegally parcelling out land.

He said councils should stick to proper town planning practices and a strict adherence to business and building by-laws.

“The corrupt parcelling out of land to land barons at whatever level and the construction of houses at undesignated areas by whoever and in a haphazard manner must stop,” he said.

He said councils must ensure the orderly resettlement of people, provision of water and sanitation facilities, together with other infrastructure required for decent habitation.

Regarding job creation, he called for the establishment of the national productivity institute to promote competitiveness of local industries.

“Closely related to the foregoing is the need to exploit the dialogue platform, tripartite negotiating forum, where government, business and labour should collaborate and implement the agreed social contract,” he said.

As highlighted in the national budget, his government is anticipating a growth of the national economy, predicated on the improvement of the mining and agriculture sector.

Government is currently putting final touches on its bid to reform and commercialise non-performing State enterprises that had become an albatross around its neck.

On elections, Mnangagwa said government was committed to ensuring a credible, free and fair election next year, adding that he will uphold the rule of law and promote democratic principles.

He reiterated his desire to press for re-engagement with other countries in a bid to boost the country’s economic situation, further thanking the military for ensuring a peaceful transition of power from his predecessor ex-president Robert Mugabe, who resigned last month.

Mnangagwa also called for a transformation in the social services sector, claiming the long queues in hospitals will be dealt with in the first 100 days, where the Cabinet is targeted to put in place meaningful reforms.

Mnangagwa also asked business persons to stop hiking prices, assuring people of enough power supply, further promising to deal with mineral smuggling.