Building confidence in dealing with corruption key to economic competitiveness
THIS instalment is a continuation of the series that started two weeks ago. The developments in the media prompted me to re-visit the “corruption” subject that I have written about extensively in the past, once again.
There has been a lot of corruption accusations levelled against high profile and former key Government personnel. What is quite disturbing is that these corruption allegations are coming, ironically at the time the country is being rated among the most corrupt in the world.
For example, the Transparency International (TI) ranked Zimbabwe at a high 157 of 180 on Corruption Perception Index 2017, estimating that losses inflicted by corruption amount to $1 billion annually, making corruption one of the most outstanding threats to Zimbabwe’s economic development.
The reality of the matter is that corruption does not only affect external investor confidence in the country but also affects domestic investor confidence especially when it is perceived to be largely driven or rampant among those of us who are charged with the governance of the country one way or the other.
In one of my past articles on this subject, I advocated for the Chinese way of dealing with corruption at Government level. I found the manner the Chinese deal with corruption in Government effectively deterrent in its severity in nature. The Chinese jail for long those convicted of corruption no matter your status in the community. I have a serious problem with our attitude towards reports on corruption.
We seem to have a tendency of down playing the impact of these externalities such as corruption and allow the state of denial to cloud our judgement. In the past, we viewed organisations such as Transparency International as those bent on peddling falsehoods but it is not a crime to take a look at their statistics as well.
There was hope when the Government assumed power after the Operation Restore Legacy last year and the President rightfully announced a disposition towards dealing with corruption. It does not matter whether we believe it or not, corruption affects the country’s investor confidence, as I have indicated above, both domestic and externally. Be it dealing with ease of doing business challenges or promoting the country’s openness for business, corruption adds a negative premium to actually make the cost of doing business in Zimbabwe high.
Corruption adds a negative premium to make the country uncompetitive in the eyes of the potential external and domestic investors. In one of my articles in 2016, I referred to corruption as the “latent evil” that has hamstrung the country’s economic recovery and growth.
Ignoring corruption in my opinion affected the Zim Asset and we need to do more so that corruption will not affect economic recovery, growth and achievement of vision 2030. Building confidence in dealing with corruption takes more than admitting that corruption does exist and it is rampant.
It takes more than talking about it. Building confidence in addressing the scourge of corruption takes the will to bring all the perpetrators to justice without fear and favour. We may not like some of the sources of information about the existence of corruption in the country, but it would be wise to allow ourselves to be open-minded and effectively investigate and bring to justice the culprits.
Proportionate to the size of the economy and the current state of the economy and index of 157 out of 180 countries is a serious cause for concern. Above all, corruption mainly involves money and as a result has serious financial implications for the economy. Illicit financial dealings have contributed to the current liquidity problem in the economy. Corruption has gone unchecked for a long time in Zimbabwe and has entrenched itself as a culture.
In conclusion, the Government has a mammoth task of building confidence in dealing with the scourge of corruption in the country that has affected both domestic and foreign investor confidence and competitiveness.
Dr Bongani Ngwenya is currently based at UKZN as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow and can be contacted at nbongani@gmail. com