ALL eyes are on President Robert Mugabe as his leadership faces a stern test in the wake of an expose’ on corruption in State-owned entities that requires a strategic and tactical approach from the highest office in the land, analysts said this week. Zimbabwe has in the past few weeks awoken to a series of reports exposing the rot at public institutions, among them the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and the Premier Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) where executives are taking home obscene salaries.
While the parent ministries under which ZBC and PSMAS fall have reacted by instituting several measures to correct the situation, analysts are of the view that President Mugabe, as the chief executive of the Republic, should lead these efforts to exorcise rampant corruption in State entities. President Mugabe has so far directed that Misheck Sibanda, the secretary to the President and Cabinet, handles this matter and ensures the obscene salaries and jaw-dropping perks are corrected.
But other than directing parastatals and other State enterprises to submit their salary structures to the Office of the President and Cabinet, no action has yet been taken against those fingered beyond their removal from boards or suspension and retirement. In fact, no public statement as of yet has come from the President to provide the necessary support to those who are working to address these issues and send a strong message to those who think they are politically connected and untouchable.
Analysts said President Mugabe should do more to give policy direction on this explosive issue, including intervening directly to restore public confidence in the governance system. They said speed in addressing these issues would go a long way in addressing public confidence and ensuring that parastatals fully play their role in national economic development. Media Centre director, Earnest Mudzengi, said the environment was fast becoming dysfunctional, adding that the President should be more visible in dealing with the crisis.
“Maybe he (the President) thinks it’s not the right time to comment or act. He may want to act when there is tangible evidence of abuse of State funds,” said Mudzengi. “We have not yet seen a deepening crisis so the President may be expecting the State systems to act,” he added. Mudzengi said moral decadence was to blame for the corruption and salary problems that have since been exposed. This is at a time when company closures and a political impasse pervade Zimbabwe. All economic indicators point to a country on a precipice. From agriculture to aviation, from milling to transport, light to heavy industries, the economy is teetering on the edge.
A parliamentary committee report last week warned of more company closures while a survey by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries late last year said capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector dropped by 5,3 percentage points to 39,6 percent in 2013, compared to 44,9 percent in 2012, a sure sign that industry is struggling.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change last week said Zimbabwe requires over US$4 billion to kick start key sectors of the stuttering economy with the party’s secretary general and former finance minister saying 84 percent of the formal sector has collapsed. Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa recently pointed to a liquidity crunch biting Zimbabwe while a civil servants salary bill, gorging 73 percent of government income, saddling the economy blights prospects of recovery.
Charity Manyeruke argues that the President had “done a lot” but society must shoulder some responsibility.
“The crisis especially around corruption shows that our social fabric is fundamentally wrong. These situations should have been restrained by the ethics that need not be breached,” said Manyeruke. She argued that over concentration on political matters exposed society to other threats from corruption, itself a sign of decay of moral fiber.
“We concentrated so much on political issues which we did not realize that there are inexplicable linked to the fabric of society,” she added.
It has been suggested that the President should put in place a commission of inquiry across all parastatals and ensure that the issues that might arise are addressed in an impartial manner and that recommendations can be implemented across the whole entities. The commission of inquiry would go beyond the issue of salaries to look into other issues such as procurement and address the challenges in a holistic manner .Nehanda Radio