Fighting graft requires will, not special unit

HARARE - President Emmerson Mnangagwa “hit the ground running” when he assumed office last November, pledging to fight corruption wherever it exists.

Busting corruption became one of his top priorities, along with his “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra, which is meant to whet investor-appetite.

But as we reported this past week, the anti-corruption drive is fast losing momentum, with Mnangagwa now facing the embarrassing prospect of having large-scale, callous embezzlement of funds continuing under his watch.

Notwithstanding the much-hyped zero-tolerance to corruption, his administration has so far recorded no convictions in trials of the allegedly rotten tomatoes in high places.

In fact, those implicated for abuse of office and corruption are out on relaxed bail terms, while some have had their passports returned to them — an indication that the cases against them could be crumbling.

To save face, Mnangagwa has been forced to establish a special anti-corruption prosecution unit based in his office, but we doubt if this is the solution.

To succeed in the fight against corruption, those tasked with this mammoth exercise must be blind to issues to do with political affiliation, race, tribe, gender and religion, because they must never be any sacred cows.

The direction the fight against the vice has taken suggests that it is only rivals of the current administration who must face the music.

Even more importantly, other than the rhetoric, there is really no political will from Mnangagwa’s subordinates to make our environment corruption-free.

In dealing with endemic corruption like the one in Zimbabwe, we have reached that juncture whereby sweeping reforms are long-overdue in all the arms of the State.

Only after such reforms, can the country efficaciously deal with old cases of graft, root out emerging ones and guard against the recurrence of the vice.

As things stand right now, you cannot expect an administration whose head of State is still to declare his assets, net worth and the sources thereof publicly, to viciously tackle graft.

Against such a background, it is futile to attempt to fight rampant corruption using tainted hands, fouled institutions and defiled systems.

As highlighted by Stephen Chan, a professor of world politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, last week, having many people at senior level suspected of corruption will mean that corruption is part, not just of the system of government, but the culture and structure of government.

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