Tuesday, January 30, 2018

EDITORIAL COMMENT: Corruption Fight in Sync with AU Theme
January 30, 2018
Zimbabwe Herald

AT the opening ceremony of the 30th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) two days ago, the theme for 2018; “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”, was unveiled.

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria officially launched the theme and had some nuggets of wisdom which should resonate with African countries, including Zimbabwe. He said corruption was “one of the greatest evils of our time”.

“Corruption rewards those who do not play by the rules and also creates a system of distortion and diversion thereby destroying all efforts at constructive, just and fair governance,” he explained.

Corruption is indeed evil and is variably described as a cancer that has gnawed at the social fabric and development of Africa. There have been cases when Africa has been made a synonym of corruption and some countries have been described as “fantastically corrupt”.

Corruption in Africa is real while countries may simply lose out because of the perception that African countries and leaders are corrupt hence the need for investors to shun certain destinations.

As President Buhari puts it, corruption distorts systems and skews the playground towards well-connected individuals and often criminal gangs who go on and amass massive wealth for themselves.

This corruption, sustained by bribery, extortion, kickbacks, graft, racketeering, name-dropping, among other evil modalities, replicates itself in a vicious cycle. What is worrying is that money gets diverted and not used for purposes for which they have been budgeted for.

We have seen projects suffer stillbirth because money intended for their completion would have been diverted. We have also seen shoddy and half-baked projects not commensurate with funds availed.

Some investors have taken flight because of demand for kickbacks by unscrupulous individuals near levers of power. On the main, corrupt individuals have lived luxurious lives at the expense of the majority; at the cost of lives, in some instances. One can imagine a shortage of drugs at a hospital because a tender to provide some machinery or buy some medicines have been diverted.

It is that serious.

We applaud President Mnangagwa’s administration for fighting corruption and declaring zero tolerance to the practice. The President should stand firm and as the Chinese would put it, catch the tigers and the flies.

There should be no sacred cows and all criminals should go to jail. There have been worries by citizens that there are still corrupt individuals even in the new administration.

With President Mnangagwa’s zero tolerance to corruption, we can only predict that soon the long arm of the law will catch up. Fighting corruption will instil confidence in investors and lenders because it will be known that every penny will be committed to intended use.

The elimination of corruption boosts the ease of doing business. It is a scenario that Zimbabwe needs at the moment. A Zimbabwe that is “open for business” should be corruption-free.

And President Mnangagwa in enforcing a clean, transparent and efficient culture will also be conforming to the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC) which has not been enforced for the past 15 years. Zimbabwe could actually lead the way.

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