Creatures at the top
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.