Can Zanu PF deal with the corruption scourge? 

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GRACE KWINJEH

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s sincerity in fighting corruption, ending a culture of impunity by bringing to book all culprits regardless of factional alliances is being put to a test. The President has to walk the talk. Do away with the recent confusing catch and release strategy, target real criminals and have them jailed.

Taking over power in a coup against former President Robert Mugabe, the ‘new dispensation’ leadership legitimised this by claiming to be ‘fighting criminals’ around the former strongman.

Zimbabweans thronged the streets kissed soldiers celebrating ‘Uhuru’ rather presumptuously and prematurely. The rather naive assumption was that with Mugabe’s departure all the country’s problems would have been solved, chief among these being rampant corruption. But no!

Consequently, the negative impact of corruption on our society is felt today more than it has ever been. Zimbabwe has literally been plunged into darkness everything has fallen apart. Development stalled, unstable society as political temperatures continue to rise and the justice system compromised.

Our collective value systems as a nation has gone to the dogs.

Mugabe left behind a vast well oiled system of corruption and cronyism, whose tentacles stretch beyond the ruling Zanu PF party, into parastatals, other government agencies and the rest of society.

It would soon emerge that powerful cartels have captured the state  ruthlessly fleecing a population that is struggling and falling under the weight of so many hardships. Over the months since the cartels were first exposed, one hoped this would be a deterrence putting an end to their operations; in the food, fuel and banking industries. We even hoped for arrests. But Nada.

Consequently, Zimbabweans for the right reasons remain skeptical over the genuineness of Prisca Mupfumira’s recent arrest, with many theories being advanced and conclusions being drawn.

Some claim this is the unfinished succession war in Zanu PF pitting Mupfumira who is perceived to be G40 against current minister of Defence, Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri, to take over from the ailing Vice President Constatine Chiwenga.

It is important to note here that Mugabe had already fired Mupfumira after she was initially implicated in the NSSA scandal. Curiously, Mupfumira somehow made it back into government as a minister under the ‘new dispensation’, criminal allegations against her forgotten.

It is also claimed this could be just a façade by the Lacoste faction to weaken enemies within and outside the Zanu PF party, leading to the eventual arrests of powerful MDC Alliance politicians – under the pretext of fighting corruption.

Whatever the case, what is fundamental to note at this point is that, using the cliché ‘all hell has broken loose.’

The political will to deal with corruption is now being tested, with a more incredible urgency than during the Mugabe era. Zimbabweans are suffering the consequences of years of unbridled corruption and their patience is running out.  They can’t take it anymore. They want the lights in their homes switched on.

Politicians are having sleepless nights. No one seems secure.

The country can’t continue as if it’s business as usual. The integrity of the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission (ZACC) hangs on a balance, it has to deliver, Zimbabweans are waiting to be convinced that it is not just a weapon to harass both internal and external opposition.

The Zimbabwe economy continues to bleed financially with reports of USD $3billion spent by treasury on Command Agriculture in less than a year, vanishing with no paper trail.

This was revealed during a Public Finance Portfolio Committee hearing held on the 19th of July 2019 led by Hon Tendai Biti.

The grand corruption revelations expose government’s financial indiscipline, superficial reforms, national decay and stripping of national assets.

Of greater concern is that our national budget was at USD$4billion last year, and an astounding USD$3billion was allocated to command agriculture, remains unaccounted for.

Mnangagwa continues to preach “zero tolerance on corruption” yet national assets continue to be stripped hence the challenges affecting the country. The Command Agriculture scheme the greatest heist of our time, is one of the many schemes through which money is stolen from our national coffers.

Farmers were supposed to be given all required farming inputs, equipment, capacity building training to ensure maximum production. However, government recently announced that they have three months maize supply left and are looking forward to getting maize imports from Zambia.

The United Nations estimates that a total of 5,3 million Zimbabweans will need food aid. It’s a humanitarian crisis. A man made crisis that requires criminals to be jailed.