CORRUPTION is an “indefensible cancer” that should be dealt with wherever it occurs, Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Air Marshal Perrance Shiri has said.
In an exclusive interview with our Harare Bureau on Friday, Air Marshal Shiri said the AFZ and the rest of the security sector abhorred corruption, and urged remedial action wherever the vice was detected.
Air Marshal Shiri spoke a day after his boss, Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander-in-Chief President Mugabe condemned graft and made it clear that his Government would not protect the corrupt. Earlier in the week, Zimbabwe National Army Chief-of-Staff Major-General Douglas Nyikayaramba told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Security that corruption in top Government circles was contributing to poor economic performance threatening national security.
Allegations of corruption and abuse of office by senior Government officials, including Cabinet ministers, have dominated media headlines in recent months, with the generality of the public calling for decisive action against all those implicated.
Air Marshal Shiri told our Harare Bureau, “When we say the security apparatus, we mean the security forces of Zimbabwe, and the Air Force is no exception. Corruption is a cancer which has to be dealt with wherever it is present. There is need to prove that an individual is corrupt and there are due processes that have to be followed. No one can defend corruption, definitely, and this includes us as the Air Force.”
Air Marshal Shiri, who was conferred with a Master of Science in Development Studies degree at the Women’s University in Zimbabwe last Friday, said his dissertation examined how the 1975 Mgagao Declaration could guide leaders’ conduct in modern Zimbabwe.
The declaration was signed by Zimbabwean guerillas at the main Zanla training camp in Tanzania, and laid the foundation for the ouster of Zanu leader Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, paving way for President Mugabe’s elevation.
President Mugabe was elected party leader at a special congress in Chimoio, Mozambique two years later.
The Air Marshal said: “My dissertation topic was ‘The Roots of the 1975 Mgagao Declaration and its Influence on the Creation of Zimbabwe and Formulation of Modern Day Policies’. I chose this particular topic because the Mgagao Declaration brought in some values (of leadership) which did not exist at the time. It actually highlighted the need for the leaders to work closely with their followers and the followers doing the same rather than working in a segregated manner where the leaders view themselves as different from the led and believe that whatever they do, whether right or wrong, the people would just follow them.”
Zimbabwe is on an anti-corruption crusade as enunciated by President Mugabe in his 10-point Plan for Economic Growth, which he presented to Parliament in August 2015. President Mugabe appointed the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission in November of the same year, and brought it under his Office’s direct supervision.
One of the high profile cases Zacc is investigating involves Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo and his deputy, Dr Godfrey Gandawa, who allegedly siphoned hundreds of thousands of US dollars from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund.
It is alleged that the pair took the money via shelf companies Wisebone Trading and Fuzzy Technologies. Dr Gandawa owns Fuzzy Technologies. Prof Moyo has tacitly admitted to diverting Zimdef funds, saying on a social media platform that he was a modern Robin Hood — a character from British folklore who robbed the rich and gave to the poor. The alleged abuse of funds come even as Zimdef, as reported by our sister newspaper The Herald, plans to retrench 60 of its 200 workers due to “lack of financial resources”.
Zimdef reportedly collects about US$3,6 million monthly and has a wage bill of less than US$200 000 per month. And as some Government officials claimed only President Mugabe could order a minister’s arrest or prosecution — a position not supported by the Constitution of Zimbabwe — the Head of State and Government himself has said there are no sacred cows when it comes to graft.