MALAWI President Lazarus Chakwera recently fired his Labour minister and ordered the arrest of 19 public officials for abuse of public funds earmarked to fight the coronavirus. An audit by Chakwera’s government revealed that the money had found its way into the officials’ pockets at a time when the nation was battling to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. “Even though the minister has since returned the money, his usage of the funds means that the money was unavailable for its intended purpose when it was needed most. And I cannot have in my Cabinet any individuals who either spend money budgeted for one thing on something else or do not ask tough questions to ensure that the money they are spending on something was budgeted for that purpose,” Chakwera said. Closer home, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s anti-graft talk at his inauguration three years ago was not any different, but still remains empty talk. According to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, the country is losing almost US$2 billion to corruption annually. When the army toppled former leader Robert Mugabe through a coup in November 2017 and Mnangagwa assumed power, he promised to deal with corruption decisively. He even went on to publish a list of companies that were alleged to have externalised foreign currency, giving them a window period to return the proceeds of corrupt deeds or face severe penalties. Poor Zimbabweans thought finally their woes with thieves were finally coming to an end and all those who stole their tax money were going to face consequences. Three years down the line, nothing much has happened in terms of returning the ill-gotten wealth to government coffers or the arrest of the culprits. Instead, corruption has continued to spread and fester unabated in the corridors of power. Besides former Energy minister Samuel Undenge who recently did time in jail for corruption, Mnangagwa’s government has embarked on a deceitful catch and release crusade just to paint a picture of a regime determined to curb corruption. Cleary, the Mnangagwa-led government has proved to be nothing but a fraud bent on depriving citizens of basic necessities while his cronies line their pockets with public funds. The fact that Mnangagwa made the right promises during election campaign shows that he knows exactly what needs to be done to keep Zimbabwe on track and achieve economic prosperity. But his reluctance to act is clear evidence that he is compromised. Globally, corruption is the major reason for illicit financial flows prejudicing governments of billions of dollars. Zimbabwe needs the Chakwera kind of approach in fighting corruption, failing which corrupt politicians will loot the country dry. Mnangagwa should drop his rhetoric on fighting corruption and show he has the bite. Public accountability and transparency should be his government’s guiding principles.
The post ED must take a cue from Chakwera’s anti-sleeze stance appeared first on NewsDay Zimbabwe.