Sunday Southern Eye Newspaper 09 February 2014
By Michael Mdadla Ndiweni
The recent weeks have seen massive media blitz in publicizing the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimASSET) economic framework as a panacea to the declining economic growth. It gives hindsight of what has occurred in the country leading to the economic quagmire that the country is slowly sliding back to. The economic blue print gives a synopsis of various challenges that has marred economic sectors and as result slowed or stunted growth. It fails to acknowledge corruption as an ‘asset’ in the hearts and minds of many Zimbabweans employed in these sectors. Corruption as an ‘asset’ in many hearts of Zimbabwean in my view will scuttle good intentions of ZimASSET because the whole society is deeply entrenched in corruption. More painfully it has come to the public domain that mostly is organized and structured corruption, hence need for meaningful strategies to deal with it. I think that what will make ZimAsset work is for ZANU PF led government to have short term, medium and long-term not just a wish list as outlined in the blue print.
The economic recovery plan asserts that source documents recognize the continued existence of the illegal economic sanctions, subversive activities and internal interferences may undermine the economic recovery plan. On the contrary I think local imposed sanctions by top earners will continue to prejudice the government millions if not billions of dollars, under what I will it call financial terrorists and economic saboteurs, who appear to have been authorized to embezzle funds to suit their personal aggrandizement.
Corruption is only acknowledged in the transport sector but it is rampant in agriculture, local government, energy, environment and natural resources and others. The “Quick win” would be to arrest and bring to trial all corrupt government officials if this is not done the whole plan is doomed to fail. Let me point out the dangers of corruption. Corruption inhibits social, political economic transformation as sought by ZimASSET. Corruption depletes national wealth and also undermines economic development by generating considerable distortions and inefficiency and as it funnels scarce public resources to uneconomic high profile projects at the expense of the much needed projects such as schools, hospitals and roads, or the supply of potable water and impoverishing the entire population. In the private sector, corruption increases the cost of business through the price of illicit payments themselves. In political sphere, corruption impedes democracy and the rule of law as public institutions and offices lose their legitimacy when they misuse their power for private interest. Corruption reduces interest of political participation, lead to political instability, reducing the transparency of political decision making and sustaining political patronage.
The secret service`s arm of white collar criminal activities seem to be complicit and some sections of the society must be forgiven for calling for its disbandment because it failed to dictate or expose these illegal local imposed sanctions by senior government employees who are enriching and growing their pot bellies at the demise of the state overtime. The public media is commended for the expose` of obscene salaries and ZANU PF`s intentions to revive the economy by coming up with this robust document. However it is very saddening to observe that listed blitz interventions do not have rapid strategies to deal with corruption, inferences are made to strengthen government institutions and combat corruption but it is not convincing the way it is outlined in the economic framework.
I think the point of departure in the short-term to medium term is that for the coming two years ZANU PF must build people`s confidence to the government in light of salary gate revelations in reviving the economy.
• They must arrest and put on trial all authors, sponsors and beneficiaries of scandals in various government departments.
• They must not leave a stone unturned. There are allegations of corruption that are still pending of the embezzlement of $6 million by the former chairperson of the minerals board but update no action has been taken.
• They must empower the Anti Corruption Commission to carry out its constitutional mandate without fear or favor. If this is done it will build confidence from the general populace that the government is sincere and serious about leading a sustainable economic recovery plan.
• The last two years before 2018 the ZANU PF led government must be to rally the general populace behind the economic recovery plan. Otherwise with the current shocking levels of corruption the ZimASSET will just be a pipe dream and a remain a wish to many Zimbabweans, as more economic plans will follow it as has been the norm over past years, Esap to ZimPREST, to NERP to MERP, to STERP now ZimASSET.