Corruption – a Zanu (PF) badge

The messages coming out of Zanu (PF) on corruption are not encouraging. After absconding at a time when the country needed to see the president making a firm stand against corruption, President Mugabe finally reacted. But rather than reminding the judiciary, the prosecutors and police to carry out their sworn duty of upholding the law, the nonagenarian leader summoned the inner circle of looters aka (also known as) the politburo.

Mugabe’s call for a sit-down smacks of a cover-up rather than a genuine attempt to stem corruption. To quieten the angry masses, transport minister Obert Mpofu has sacked the entire AirZim board and arrests have been made at the national airline, where executives allegedly committed massive insurance fraud. A new board has also been installed at ZBC.

Only the small fish have been arrested. No announcement has been made on the position of ZBC boss, Happison Muchechetere, who continues to earn a salary despite suspension. The public is keen to see President Mugabe hooking and reeling in a shark, such as the Chitungwiza land barons, the Psmas board, whose avarice effectively deprived thousands of members of receiving medical assistance and Goodwills Masimirembwa, whose $6M extortion of a Ghanaian investor negates the country’s drive to advertise itself as a safe investment zone.

What has obviously happened behind the scenes is that Zanu (PF) weighed up all the corruption cases and, after realising that there is nobody important who stands to be dragged down with the AirZim case, have thrown Grace Pfumbidzai under the bus. In the Chitungwiza land fraud and the ZMDC-Masimirembwa debacle, party bigwigs stand to drown so Mugabe has done nothing. Senior party officials are aware that the downfall of a party ‘chef’ will ultimately drag other big names into the mud.

The big dilemma staring Mugabe in the face is how to prosecute someone who knows where all the bodies are buried – so to speak. ‘If I go down I’ll take you with me.’ It is this fear of being exposed that has handicapped Mugabe in the fight against corruption. President Mugabe himself spent $5M on a luxury apartment in Hong Kong for his daughter Bona. More recently, Ignatius Chombo, on behalf of his boss, diverted $1M of City of Harare resources towards the repair of roads leading to the presidential mansion, to ensure smooth passage for the bridal party at Bona Mugabe’s upcoming nuptials.

In a continent where speaking of death and the natural cycle of life is regarded as ‘un-African,’ one is cautious with words. But frankly, corruption may only become eradicable with the expiry through natural causes of the current generation, whose liberation war credentials seem to ensure them immunity to prosecution.

Opposition cracking

When state media went on an aggressive smear campaign against MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai, it was clear that Zanu (PF) was the ventriloquist behind the dummy. When Zanu (PF) seemed to have scored an own goal through Joice Mujuru’s corruption gaff, all Tsvangirai needed to do, was to watch Zanu (PF) implode. But instead the main opposition party has driven a train over its own toes.

After making public calls for Tsvangirai to resign, MDC-T deputy treasurer Elton Mangoma was assaulted by youths loyal to the party president. According to The Herald – the consumption of whose stories always requires a spoon, if not a shovel, of salt – the attack occurred while Tsvangirai watched gleefully. Alternative sources state that Tsvangirai attempted to intervene but was overwhelmed by the mob. Either way, his reputation has been damaged without the direct involvement of Zanu (PF).

If indeed Tsvangirai attempted to intervene and then failed to stop the attackers, he will come across as a weak leader who cannot control his dogs. If there was no such attempt, questions are raised about the democracy and tolerance within his party whose core principles are clearly defined even in the party’s name. Unless Tsvangirai acts swiftly to mend rifts, there may be a falling out with key party members, such as secretary general, Tendai Biti who narrowly escaped a beating.

This is symptomatic of a society whose electorate is far from attaining political maturity. So often we hear of citizens being congratulated for ‘conducting peaceful elections,’ as if voting should be done in any other way besides peacefully. It becomes difficult for Africa to demand to be weaned from the breast of its former colonisers when our political disagreements always degenerate into fisticuffs which, in this age of technology, are beamed worldwide.

It is also ludicrous for Africans to claim sovereignty when, at the smallest sign of trouble, we run like day-old chicks under the wings of external helpers. From a Zimbabwean perspective, it was both disheartening and embarrassing to see Minister Chombo begging for funds to assist flood victims in Masvingo. What was glaringly evident was the whiteness and foreignness of faces in attendance as he brazenly read out his shopping list.

At the same time, Zanu (PF) Mash-west provincial chairman Temba Mliswa was demanding that white farmers vacate their plots. This is at a time when government grain reserves are non-existent and the country is requesting food and clothing from foreigners to cater for flood victims, who in truth are victims of poor planning and inept disaster management. What is shocking is that despite being incapable of taking care of our own, we have magically produced $1M to smooth the route to Bona’s wedding.

Jessie for justice

Victory engenders hunger for further triumph. After making government scrap ZBC listeners’ licenses, Jessie Majome has a new mission. The Harare West MP has proposed a mandatory 30 year prison term for rapists. Majome wants government to provide forensic rape investigation facilities to police. To help illustrate the impact of rape and sexual abuse, Jessie Majome paraded, in Parliament, a group of pregnant underage girls, all victims of abuse. MPst were visibly moved.

But reality is that the country lacks the financial resources to secure rape test kits and DNA testing.

The country’s DNA tests in paternity cases are done in South Africa, costing $400 per exam. To get the police fingerprint unit to attend to a burglary, one is required to provide them with transport. To expect DNA facilities of the type seen in CSI shows at ZRP Central – with their frayed shirt collars and their cries of ‘hatina transport’ – is at this stage, a pipe dream.

Spare a thought for flood victims of Tokwe-Mukosi. ‘The measure of a civilisation is how it treats its weakest members’: Mahatma Ghandi. – Till next week, my pen is capped. [email protected]

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