The greatest defect with political patronage is that it not only rewards the incompetent and rolls out the red carpet for mediocrity but also builds a wall around them. The result is that we have arrogant, sacred cows who engage in corruption since they are immune to prosecution.
Because the big fish are immune to the law, we have wanton abuse of state resources that deprives the poor of a meaningful living. Subsequently, those involved in the clandestine deals, the politically connected and relatives, become filthy rich, whilst the masses wallow in squalor.
Whilst most critics point to greed as one of the main cause of corruption, l am of the opinion that the guarantee of immunity overrides greed, in terms of motivating perpetrators. Ever since independence, we have never had anything more than a public rebuke from the president, and a few unfortunate sacrificial lambs. Heads have not rolled. Not a single big fish has been caged. No wonder the cronies don’t care a hoot.
Whether workers go for six months or the whole year, as is the NRZ case, without pay, it’s none of their business. And “see not the speck in your brother’s eye” is their slogan.
So, people should not wonder why the rot at ZBC happened under the minister’s nose, why diamond extraction in Chiadzwa has remained clouded in a veil of secrecy, and even worse, why those fingered to be corrupt, are still in cabinet or occupying their posts in public offices.
Patronage impinges on the rule of law and the delivery of justice. By creating a top brass of powerful individuals who are immune to prosecution, what it simply means is that we have the same law, but others are above it. Therefore, any investigation that involves the bigwigs is bound to hit a snag. This explains why we have sterile commissions, whose only use is to squander taxpayers’ money, for their results never see the light of the day. The Charles Utete Land Commission and the recent one set up by Ignatius Chombo to investigate the stands scandal in Chitungwiza, are good examples. This means the poor cannot access justice.
For instance, right now, evicted villagers in Masvingo East sleep in the cold, despite the fact that the lands minister Douglas Mombeshora ordered a land audit, which he then swept under the carpet because it involved the top brass in Zanu (PF).
Closely linked to that is the issue of constitutionalism. Top officials flout the constitution willy-nilly and snub court orders if judgement is at variance with their expectations. Some simply resist complying because they know that nothing will happen to them. That explains why it’s not criminal for diamond companies in Chiadzwa not to remit proceeds to the treasury as stipulated in the country’s laws and the anti-corruption commission’s botched attempt to probe ministers Obert Mpofu and Savious Kasukuwere last year, despite having a court order.
Therefore, patronage, not only leads to the flouting of the constitution but also creates a toothless police force, an emasculated judiciary and institutions that have no integrity and are not transparent, accountable or fair.
The cancer of corruption that has paralysed our nation is directly linked to political patronage.
Corruption starts at the top, then cascades down to the generality of the population and manifests itself through greed, hence the rot in our parastatals, state institutions and the private sector.
The solution lies in weeding out political patronage, the mother of corruption, and then in giving the organs that fight the scourge of corruption guns to battle it. But, the million-dollar question is: do we have the political will? – TichPost published in: Letters to the Editor