Vincent Gono, Features Editor
ON Friday President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed a new cabinet with new faces that is expected to usher in fresh policies that will steer the country forward especially in the economic front.
His cabinet has more technocrats than before and is a complete departure from the old Zanu-PF culture of recycling old horses, a culture punctuated by a strong syndrome of rewarding loyalty. Major casualties include Cdes Obert Mpofu, Patrick Chinamasa, Simon Khaya Moyo, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Mike Bimha, among others who also include Supa Mandiwanzira.
The new cabinet has been lauded by many who felt it was balanced with level headed individuals capable of delivering the country from its shameful nakedness brought about by years of policy inconsistencies and corruption that was allowed to sprout with reckless abandon.
People have expressed confidence in the new cabinet on various social media platforms with much talk on the Finance and Economic Development Ministry that is now headed by Professor Mthuli Ncube who they say is President ED’s winning card.
Analyst Mr Methuseli Moyo said the cabinet was the best under the circumstances. He said the President must be commended for being able to drop the traditional names while at the same time moving those who remained to new portfolios in some cases.
“The appointment of Professor Ncube at Finance is an indicator of serious intention by the President to deal with economic and financial upheavals in the country. The appointment of Raj Modi and Kirsty Coventry goes a long way to prove that capability, not age, colour or gender will be recognised in the new dispensation. Again the cabinet is balanced in terms of regional representation,” said Mr Moyo.
On corruption he said he hoped the pieces with cancer have been cut out. He added that there was need for very strong supervision by the relevant authorities to ensure that the cancer of corruption does not persist.
Corruption has in recent years been threatening not only the remaining vestiges of the country’s social order but has tattered its moral fibre leaving it thread bare and causing a severe economic retrogression whose effects are seismic and felt by all.
Corruption has become cancerous in both the private and public sectors of the country with politicians not spared by the rot either. It has become rampant almost embedded and an accepted way of life for the Zimbabwean society.
The extent to which it has spread is such that it can be engaged in openly despite the known legal consequences that have rarely been effected making it look very petty especially in most Government departments where people expect to get kickbacks for a job they are employed to do.
Like Mr Moyo, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) chair Commissioner Goodson Nguni said President Mnangagwa’s administration was serious and more determined to fight corruption than the previous administration as evidenced by the support he was giving to ZACC.
“We would like to thank the Government led by President Mnangagwa for supporting us. The previous Government failed to assist and support us and they were even refusing to fund us for our operations,” said Comm Nguni.
He added that with the financial support that they recently got they were going to employ more officers and set offices countrywide while plans were afoot to set up a Special Investigating Team that would target companies and banks involved in shady deals.
The economic dangers of corruption no matter how small are so many. According to a market brief by the African Development Bank, corrupt practices distort markets and stifle economic growth and sustainable development including robbing countries of critically needed resources. It reduces efficiency and increases social inequality while capital has a strong tendency of shying away from risky markets where corruption is rampant.
The increase in corruption cases in Zimbabwe has been repelling foreign direct investment which Zimbabwe so much needed to turn around its economy with allegations that government and public sector bureaucrats in the previous political administration were demanding bribes if an investor was to gain entry into certain sectors of the country’s economy.
This had an adverse effect of increasing the cost of doing business in the country thus frustrating and turning away investors in the process. As a result of damning reports of corruption, the competitiveness of Zimbabwe in attracting foreign direct investment was seriously compromised as foreign investors make use of global corruption indexes before they decide on where to invest.
Zimbabwe has been performing obscenely on the global corruption index while the Zimbabwe Anti- Corruption Commission (ZACC) has often been referred to as a toothless barking bulldog as it has always been compromised and failing to prosecute politicians as a culture of impunity became serious.
The new political administration has however, given heed to proposals to adequately fund the commission and give it enough ammunition and arresting powers to deal effectively with issues to do with corruption without fear or favour and without respecting political office through availing funds to enhance efficiency in the fight against the scourge.
The coming in of a new political dispensation and a new cabinet is expected to add impetus in dealing a death blow to corruption and break the power jinx that seemed to have been curved on stone in the old regime.
It brought a whole lot of hope to the country’s populace that had for long yearned to see an end to the economic and social malady that was a result of a coterie of problems, among them corruption that was fuelled by a government that paid little attention to it.
A deep seated culture of impunity was growing strong, undisturbed, unchecked almost legal and yet hurting and thinning the moral fibre while excessively bleeding the national economy. Shockingly however, the culture was watered, cultivated and even mulched by government ministers and their respective departments that were taking the lead in promoting corruption, mendacity, abuse of power by looting the State resources.
The law was bended and applied selectively in the country and it became apparent that arrest and prosecution was reserved for the poor and not connected citizens while those with fat pockets could easily buy their freedom.
The law was twisted and taught to know and respect certain faces while those that were mandated to ensure the law was adhered to were compromised and even entangled directly or indirectly in the web of corruption.
The rot in the government was now stinking high and wide and could no longer be concealed. What made it more nauseating was that those who were fingered in corruption even with glaring evidence were immune to prosecution.
They were protected to the point of even mudding the waters before investigations were instituted lest their ruse would be penetrated. The society was so much divorced, blind and ignorant to the definition of justice, fairness, professional and ethical conduct.
It had become a society that was sustained by lies of the glib intellectual misfits who were using their political leaning to the real corridors of power as a cushion against the tentacles of the law.
They lied in order to avoid accountability or conversely to seize the reins of accountability to a point where the social contract between the government and the governed had become theirs alone to write.
They lied in order to keep the coffers of ideological purity full. And more often than not they would use the money they got corruptly from the country’s poor citizens to buy those they wanted and those whose ideas and influence they couldn’t bury.
They sought to endlessly enrich themselves at the expense of the public and while at it tried to turn their personal morality or religion into everyone else’s legality or religiosity. It was a system that had become so rotten at the core and where the centre could no longer hold, a system that glorified corruption. It was therefore a culture of impunity to corruption that contributed significantly to the buckling of the country’s economy but with the ushering in of a new political administration and a new cabinet there is a flick of hope in the minds of many.
While it may be too early to look for results which are starting to manifest, it can never be too early and wrong to be optimistic that the new government will turn the clock to the days of prosperity and economic bountifulness.
Those that have been mandated with steering the country’s ministries are not by any means helter-skelter creatures who keep on returning to the same poisoned troughs of corruption, looting and abuse of office.
They seem to be aware that the terrain ahead of them is fraught with obstacles and should plan and execute everything with detailed discipline. Negligence, incompetence, corruption and the culture of impunity should never be tolerated.
The law should be impartial in its application and those that engage in the vice should be arrested and locked and the keys thrown in the ocean. The country however, is optimistic that the commitment made by the political administration will not remain just a statement on paper but will be followed with practical steps towards a corruption free environment.