Hijacked By Corruption: A Pandemic Beyond Measure
By Reason Wafawarova
In normal business practice, and in respect of fair competition, accountability and transparency, it has become common practice in tender procedures that suppliers of goods and services have to win contracts because they have, among other things, demonstrated capacity to deliver before they invoice – even in cases where an upfront deposit may be necessary to compensate for potential losses on the part of suppliers.
Recent scandals reported over COVID19 supplies have shown to us Zimbabweans a pandemic within a pandemic, albeit a reflective pointer to a long surviving culture of profiteering and outright looting carried out systematically in the name of bona fide business – even with a veneer of morality where we are told we are creating local business people. Our President is on record saying, “I want to create billionaires.” I am sure he said this with the best of intention.
It looks like we already have overnight successes so phenomenal that even infamous armed robbers and extortionists have left their evil ways to become our leading exemplary business people. Delish Nguwaya explained that he had left criminal life to become a “regular businessman.” He is before the courts now, for charges that certainly do not point to a regular businessman.
But I digress.
We have this new culture in business where some unscrupulous people in our government hand pick lucky few fellows from the rugs, gives them capital, which these lucky few will then use to service contracts from our government.
Easily simplified a poor fellow with two cents in his bank account comes up with a company name that he calls his company, registered or not, he approaches government departments masquerading as a financially viable entity solvent and capable of supplying goods to the government.
The RBZ has been reported to fund private businesses in the name of servicing our critical sectors, and these include but are not limited to Public Transport, Fuel and Grain production.
It is harder with services because without skill and expertise it is easier to be exposed as incapable of delivery.
However there are numerous makeshift Public Relations “firms” currently contracted by our Government to defend it from what Patrick Chinamasa calls detractors – and this writer has been asked for help by at least five of these “PR Companies.”
They are manned by unqualified PR personnel in most of the cases – who are earning millions of dollars, some even channeled through the President’s Office, and some through the Information Ministry.
I have argued the best way to showcase the good side of our government is service delivery, not propaganda. Professional PR companies will only ethically agree to market genuine, honest and respectable deliverables, not make belief claims designed to move an agenda of crude propaganda.
Anyway, the point is we have been giving tenders to people so they can invoice first, take our money, go purchase, come and deliver, and go on to keep 80% of the invoice value as profit.
This is a culture of corruption that we have regularised and maintained in the name of indigenisation, and this has been going on for many years now.
I will point out that the egregious corrupt practice has been happily embraced by MDC run local councils as well, indicating to us that even an alternative government will do exactly the same, if not worse.
When I was Deputy Director National Youth Service, one retired Major Kudzayi Mbudzi came to my office in the company of one of our procurement officers. He told me his story. He had retired from the army and was now in private business, or so he claimed.
He spoke highly of his success as a business-person, and he reiterated that we needed to support and promote people like him. That was politically and patriotically correct assertion.
I concurred it was a brilliant idea. What we needed at the time were uniforms and boots for our graduates. I asked him to set a date for our officials to come and inspect his business premises, so they could establish capacity to supply the goods we required. If capacity was proven, then we could proceed to list his company as a potential supplier, pending the decision of the Procurement Committee.
He then told me that they could order uniforms from Kadoma Textiles and boots from Bata in Gweru and deliver them within two weeks. All he needed was a Government Requestion from us and we could chill and relax for the delivery.
He gave me examples of who in the government had dealt with him, and how he had delivered without fail.
I said; “Major Mbudzi. We know Kadoma Textiles and Bata, and they are already our suppliers at a very affordable price. Why do you think I must allow you to supply us with goods from two suppliers who are already on our books?”
I said, we could go ahead and give him the order, if the Major could prove to us that they would supply better uniforms and shoes at a price equal or lower than Bata and The Textiles.
The man was not amused at all, and he started yelling that I was MDC and a traitor, and I was sabotaging President Mugabe’s indigenisation initiative. He vowed that he would see to it that I lose my job. Him and his accompanying procurement officer left my office totally unpleased.
Now, if you vote for a corrupt leader because he champions your race, tribe, religion or bigotry, you deserve everything you asked for – crime, robbery, violence, intimidation, poverty, diseases, homelessness, and collective societal depression. The way we elect our leaders determines the kind of leadership we will get.
When plunder becomes a way of life, over time the plunderers create a legal system that authorises it, and a moral code that glorifies it; in our case we have always used the morality of indigenisation, and today we are told that overnight millionaire businessmen like Valdano Brown and Delish Nguwaya are in fact “sanctions busters” helping Natpharm to go around the noose of US sanctions.
We cannot possibly bust the ruinous economic sanctions iposed on us for two decades now by engaging in corrupt get-rich-quick businesses. You cannot right the wrong of sanctions by corruption. Two wrongs do not right each other, and we must come to that understanding as a people.
You cannot fight corruption with corruption, as ZACC is doing with its state media decorated showmanship of bravado – which has resulted in the massive arrest of Madam Mupfumira, albeit for the sake of it. After the drama of her arrest, we have not seen vibrancy in the merits of the case itself before the courts, and we keep waiting.
You cannot fight corruption by juts fighting corruption either. People corrupt power. Power does not corrupt people. To deal with corruption we must administer and regulate power first.
It was rather unfortunate to hear the President publicly declaring, “We are the army, we are the police, we are the Air Force, we are everything.” Such a statement sends the wrong message of corrupted power.
Hypocrisy is the audacity to preach integrity from the den of corruption. It is sickening how COVID19 has created overnight millionaires in Zimbabwe. We cannot prey on the shoulders of a pandemic to accumulate illicit wealth. That is simply unacceptable.
The corruption in our government structures stinks at every level all the way to high heavens, and it is the duty of our executive to arrest the scourge.
We have seen revelations that unscrupulous individuals at the RBZ were conniving with their friends at Ecocash and ZSE in money laundering activities that were fuelling inflation. It is sad that our executive has sought to correct this by simply issuing prohibitive Statutory Instruments, and sparing the culprits anticipated prosecution.
What we fail to appreciate as a people is that the currency of corruption in elective office is not money, but the vote.
We allow Kleptocracy to rule us because we have reasons to justify voting for the thieves. As such we are accomplices in perpetuating the corruption we mourn so much about.
Most of my friends who vociferously cry against corruption are happy to give a police officer a bribe – the same way they are happy to give known corrupt leaders their vote at election time.
Corruption is essentially government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulations. We even have high-sounding regulatory policies in support of the COVID19 looting scandals. These people were regularly awarded tenders using our regulations, albeit devoid of honesty and integrity.
Since corrupt people unite among themselves to constitute a force, we honest people must do the same; if we are going to defeat the scourge of corruption.
The very people we helped to remove Robert Mugabe were in fact fighting for the privilege of corruption, not for our collective cause.
We have a duty to turn against them with a ruthlessness never witnessed in the whole history of ruthlessness. If we are going to liberate this country one more time, we have to be more revolutionary than the beheading of monarchy personalities during the French Revolution. We got to be a lot more radical than that.
These corrupt individuals suck the blood of the nation, and they must be made to vomit it – that by any means necessary. No law should ever be allowed to protect the lawless. That is the principle of justice.
We did not fight Ian Smith for power. We fought him for self-determination. We are spectacularly failing to determine ourselves – to take our country forward as a people capable of governing and developing ourselves.
Our politicians from across the divide are fighting for power to plunder, not to serve the country and prepare it for the future generations.
I will never be afraid of my government. The government must naturally be afraid of me. The people must never be afraid of the government. The government should be afraid of the people. This is what democracy by its very definition entails.
I am determined to go back home, as we all should be, and if the vampires in the system choose to; I am ready to die for Zimbabwe. There is no greater honour in ending a life than to die in the service of one’s own country. The only assurance I would need is that I leave behind a winning team.
ZANU-PF and the MDC as currently constituted are like diarrhea and dysentery – sick political parties with sickening twin cultures of power mongering, tribalism, corruption, and mediocrity.
You do not remove a global icon like Robert Mugabe only to present to the world a “Second Republic” whose only noticeable gift to mankind is poverty and the proverbial begging bowel. That is what pathetic means. We are hopeful the new dispensation will wake up and see what exactly is expected of them.
Ambition must be for thinkers not wishers. Brain shallowness and ambition are certainly not a good mix for politics.
We can easily see this with the top two politicians of Election 2018 – both in deep disastrous muds for different reasons, but rooted in lack of policy depth.
These two politicians have suddenly become spectacular failures in the eyes of those who voted them. They would make great clowns if the matter before us were not serious national leadership.
I have no doubt the two gentlemen still fancy themselves as great men, and if they were to read this they would unleash thundering defences ahead of 2023. But I want them to prove us wrong by showing mature fruitful leadership, not the scandalous dramas we see in both government and the opposition today.
We are in a corrupted society. We have a corrupted political system. We have corrupted power. We have corrupted institutions. We have corrupted faith in our churches. We have a corrupted mindset as a people.
We need a new national and political orientation.
Our country has been hijacked by corruption. We cannot continue to finger point anymore. We need to be real and honest with ourselves. The greatest anti-corruption commission we can ever have are ourselves.
We need to be the watchmen and police officers one as accountable to the other.
If each determines in his or her heart that the good of Zimbabwe comes first before ours, then we can march forward as the civilian police against any acts of corruption.
Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!
REASON WAFAWAROVA is a political writer.