Opinion

When greed becomes staple food

There is sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed, the revered Mahatma Gandhi once said.

The late Dutch crime novelist Janwillem van de Wetering put it succinctly: greed is a fat demon with a small mouth and whatever you feed it is never enough.

The arrest of Henrietta Rushwaya at Robert Mugabe International Airport on suspected smuggling when she was caught with 6kg of gold and destined to Dubai without customs clearance will leave investigators to explore whether or not the actions were motivated by greed.

Rushwaya is innocent until proven guilty and the matter is before the courts.

The arrests and subsequent events have become cannon fodder for investigators and the courts to dissect the name dropping, allegations that the CCTV was switched off to facilitate the “heist” and claims that state agents were offered some cash to sweep the matter under the carpet.

Yearly, Zimbabwe moans about smuggling of precious minerals and in the process fleecing the economy of the badly needed foreign currency to oil industries.

The syndicates seem to be well oiled as law enforcement agencies are helpless as the monster thrives unfettered.

The ministry of Home Affairs recently said that Zimbabwe was losing US$100m monthly to smuggling of precious minerals.

 Last year, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said Zimbabwe lost over 30 tonnes of gold to smuggling.

Greed is at the heart of corrupt practices in local authorities, public sector and the private sector as people act as if there is no tomorrow.

Their rallying cry is: It’s our time to eat. Even in the change of ship captains, new lords emerge who charge fixer fees to take you to the echelons of power.

There are stories of potential investors who are extorted some cash for their deals to be processed.

Those who engage in these corrupt practices don’t care if the potential investors pack their bags and look for a new destination to invest their money. To them, this is immaterial.

The bigger picture is to line their pockets.

Those that have worked so honestly in their lives are ridiculed for failing to jump onto the gravy train.

When greed becomes the pastime, it tends to be hereditary and passed from one generation to another.

Manfred Kets De Vries, a Clinical Professor of Leadership Development & Organisational Change at INSEAD has seven signs of the greed syndrome: overly self-centred, envious, greedy people lack empathy, never satisfied, greedy people are experts in manipulation, focuses on the short run, and knows no limits.

This makes it mandatory for authorities to come up with punitive measures to curb greed which is rearing its ugly head in the Zimbabwean society.

Author Rusty Eric observed that “as long as greed is stronger than compassion, there will always be suffering”.

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