Corruption, ED’s chronic headache

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ince it came into power, less than a year ago, the administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa administration has been battling tailspins since the start of the year following a 150 percent increase in fuel price, which in turn triggered a wave of price increases.

While prices have continued to trend upwards, corruption in the public sector has also had a big knock on government business. Ordinarily investors would fret to such news.

If the latest Transparency International Corruption Perception Index are to be believed, then we advise President Mnangagwa to go a notch up in his fight against graft as taxpayers continue to bear the brunt of this. Admittedly, just this week, Mnangagwa publicly chided Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi over the lethargic pace in fighting corruption.

Zimbabwe has now dropped to 160th out of 180 countries on the index which was released this week.

The CPI ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and business people. Zimbabwe remains on the tail-end of tackling graft despite the recurrent mantra by President Mnangagwa that they are fighting corruption in both the public and private sectors.

We believe the pace at which President Mnangagwa and his lieutenants are moving against the huge wave of graft is slow, and accelerating the speed would certainly rescue the country from the jaws of this cancer.

The systems that have allowed corruption to flourish in this country are still largely intact and bodies such as the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) appear hopeless in their fight against graft.

Government can win the hearts of people, if it inculcates a new culture in the public service, while at the same time strengthening institutions fight delinquency and loss of funds to corruption.

According to a study by Pak Hung Mo on the role of corruption on economic growth in 2000, 1% increase in the corruption level reduces the growth rate by about 0.72%.

“Corruption hurts innovative activities because innovators need government-supplied goods, such as permits and import quotas, more than established producers do. Corruption in Zimbabwe therefore affects both domestic and diaspora investments. Zimbabweans in the country and abroad see corruption as a disincentive to invest. Corruption in Zimbabwe has also affected human capital development; precisely people’s talent and effort is allocated to rent-seeking activities instead of productive investments.  Moreover, corruption favours a particular class of people and creates inequality in opportunities,” observes a South Africa-based scholar Shame Mugova.

It is important for government to increase capacity for scientific evidence in order to detect highly organized and covert crimes like corruption by ensuring inter-agency cooperation, law enforcement with high-quality prosecution led investigations aimed at securing convictions.

It doesn’t do well to the image of the government when trending cases of public officials are from public entities such as Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), Hwange Colliery Company, Air Zimbabwe, ZINARA, COTTCO to mention just a few.

The poor performance of most government parastatals and or state-owned enterprises, which provide basic public services is largely explained by the amount of graft within the aforementioned institutions. For example, basing on the Auditor-General’s 2017 report, 23 state-owned enterprises and parastatals were on the brink of failure due to poor corporate governance, corruption, and mismanagement among other things.

Karl Kraus; an Austrian writer and poet rightly observes: “Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual, the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country.”