Crea­tures at the top

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Per­spec­tive Stephen Mpofu

THE trend­ing anti-cor­rup­tion nar­ra­tive in this coun­try ap­peared ear­lier this week headed for a scin­til­lat­ing peak with a Zim­babwe Na­tional Army Gen­eral call­ing for the in­tro­duc­tion of a law pro­hibit­ing in­flu­en­tial peo­ple from own­ing busi­nesses, a sit­u­a­tion that he said was a source of cor­rup­tion. Chief of Staff, Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Ma­jor Gen­eral Dou­glas Nyika­yaramba called on Mon­day, when giv­ing oral ev­i­dence on de­fence and se­cu­rity be­fore the Par­lia­men­tary Port­fo­lio Com­mit­tee in Harare, for a bl­itzkrieg by the State on cor­rupt Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials as cor­rup­tion caused in­se­cu­rity in the coun­try.

None ac­tion against of­fi­cials in­volved in graft would en­rage the pub­lic to be­come un­govern­able, thereby caus­ing problems in the restora­tion of se­cu­rity by the de­fence forces, he said.

Some lead­ers have been fin­gered by the Zim­babwe Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion for their in­volve­ment in cor­rupt ac­tiv­i­ties but have ap­par­ently re­mained un­scathed, in some case re­sort­ing to tech­ni­cal le­gal niceties or to le­gal jar­gon that left the pub­lic con­fused as to whether those ac­cused of graft were in­no­cent af­ter all — prob­a­bly just as what the ac­cused wanted, or so it seems.

When high level in­fringe­ment of the law is cited by muck-rak­ers, for in­stance, the watch­ing pub­lic nor­mally ex­pects jus­tice to be vis­ited against the ac­cused in the same way as it is of­ten seen to be done against petty-thieves or of­fend­ers.

When noth­ing hap­pens or­di­nary peo­ple are wont to won­der whether big/pow­er­ful is beau­ti­ful and un­touch­able and small/weak is ugly and dis­pos­able.

Un­for­tu­nately, the re­sult from the above is of­ten a dis­trust of the law and this causes in­se­cu­rity among law-abid­ing cit­i­zens who might feel un­pro­tected be­cause of their so­cial sta­tion in life and, as a re­sult, come to be­lieve that the more pow­er­ful cit­i­zens of the land can ride roughshod and with im­punity over any­thing, povo in­cluded.

Ma­jor Gen­eral Nyika­yaramba de­scribed cor­rup­tion as a can­cer tak­ing the coun­try back­ward, re­sult­ing in na­tional in­se­cu­rity.

If the Gen­eral’s claim of cor­rup­tion is true and he can read­ily jus­tify it — it is in­deed a tragic irony that when most Zim­bab­weans are strug­gling to put a hot meal on the ta­ble for their fam­i­lies, oth­ers splash “ill-got­ten money” on sky­scrapers while, as he al­leged, evad­ing tax paid on cap­i­tal gains.

Per­haps, and by the grace of God, Panama Pa­pers may one day hap­pen into the hands of some Zim­bab­weans, dis­clos­ing just how many mil­lions or bil­lions of dol­lars some lo­cal ty­coons, anony­mous here at home, have stashed away in for­eign bank ac­counts to avoid pay­ing tax in this coun­try.

The story of cor­rup­tion, which has se­ri­ous, neg­a­tive reper­cus­sions on po­ten­tial for­eign in­vestors needed to help bring about a vi­brant new eco­nomic or­der to the moth­er­land, takes this pen on mem­ory lane back to the early years of in­de­pen­dence in the 80s when Zim­bab­weans started ex­pe­ri­en­tially to con­sum­mate free­dom and self-de­ter­mi­na­tion, val­ues that had hith­erto ap­peared as pipe dreams.

At that time Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe, then as Prime Min­is­ter, ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment and dis­gust at the un­will­ing­ness of some of the lead­ers in Gov­ern­ment to run with the code re­quir­ing them to de­clare their as­sets, de­scrib­ing them as “crea­tures at the top”.

A book by this pen, en­ti­tled, “Crea­tures at the Top”, af­ter Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe’s cen­sure of the anti-so­cial­ist lead­ers, de­scribes just how, as in the case of our cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, an ob­scene ap­petite for riches be­came sec­ond na­ture to peo­ple who were sup­posed to lead in a new cul­ture of so­cial and eco­nomic equal­ity for all.

The fol­low­ing ex­cerpts from the book — a com­pelling, must read for any­one wish­ing to know how Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe and other stal­warts of the free­dom strug­gle who in­clude those in Gov­ern­ment, in the army, in the po­lice force as well as other rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies who have since passed on suf­fered un­told hard­ships in­side rebel Rhode­sia’s pris­ons and re­stric­tion camps dur­ing the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle — gives a suc­cinct com­par­i­son of the ap­petites for riches be­tween lead­ers in a new born Zim­babwe and those of our cur­rent lead­ers:

“In ex­ile where I spent a bet­ter part of my ca­reer the peo­ple had per­formed the same in­de­pen­dence play as that which Zim­bab­weans now acted out. They had done so with vary­ing de­grees of suc­cess and fail­ure. The prin­ci­ple ac­tors could be likened to a yoke of oxen till­ing the land. When the plough man spared the whip the re­li­able yoke of oxen still kept the fur­row, the plough share turned over deep and richly smelling sods of earth on which a crop flour­ished and a bumper har­vest was re­alised, and peo­ple heaped praise on the plough man.

“On the other hand, the de­fi­ant oxen now and then stole away from the fur­row to snap up suc­cu­lent tufts of grass, leav­ing be­hind them ugly banks and abound­ing green weeds that choked any crops strug­gling to com­pete with them, and that touched off an up­roar among the hun­gry against the spine­less plough man and his yoke of oxen. Stretch­ing my heart fur­ther, back home in Zim­babwe, I grew more de­spon­dent, as over there the shirts of many pseudo com­rades bulged over their pro­trud­ing bel­lies. I be­came aware that while the many voice­less, in pre­cious rags nois­ily cel­e­brated the so­cial­ist move­ment, there also ex­isted big chested Pharisees who de­nounced cap­i­tal­ism by shout­ing so­cial­ist slo­gans by the day but by night preyed on new op­por­tu­ni­ties opened up in com­merce and in­dus­try and meant to ben­e­fit the na­tion as a whole”.

Con­tex­tu­ally there­fore, this pen won­ders if those lead­ers ac­cused of in­volve­ment in cor­rup­tion are gen­uine Zanu-PF mem­bers or po­lit­i­cal stalk-bor­ers or en­emy agents in sheep­skin who have in­fil­trated the rul­ing party with a hid­den agenda to de­stroy it and its gov­ern­ment from within. Time will def­i­nitely tell. [The un­named of­fi­cials also in­dicted by the pub­lic over al­leged cor­rupt prac­tices may be many, or be counted on one hand. What­ever the case may be, how­ever, the cu­mu­la­tive ef­fects of their bad deeds se­ri­ously tar­nish the good im­age of col­leagues who are loyal and com­mit­ted to im­prov­ing the lot of the poor in our so­ci­ety.

In the cir­cum­stances, there­fore, heads must roll, and be seen to roll so that the rot­ten eggs do not con­tam­i­nate the good ones in the tray and the pub­lic is re­as­sured that the pow­ers that be are in full con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try.]

The coun­try’s eco­nomic blue­print, Zim-As­set, holds out the hope of tak­ing Zim­babwe to a brave new fu­ture. There­fore, it be­hoves on those in lead­er­ship po­si­tions to be seen to lead, like a com­mit­ted and in­de­fati­ga­ble yoke of oxen, in or­der to achieve all the set tar­gets.

But a yoke of oxen and don­keys with vary­ing de­grees of tastes and com­mit­ments can­not be ex­pected to de­liver on the ex­pec­ta­tions of the peo­ple of Zim­babwe.

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