(Last Updated on February 11, 2014 by Editor)
ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwean media has been having a field day with exposés of corruption and greed by state companies or at least companies linked to the government.
These reports are intriguing, but I have followed them for the spectacle and the debate they bring. I have followed the stories of corruption and greed in the state companies, probably in the same manner I would follow a television drama or series.
What bothers is me is that I am not angry at all, instead I am more apathetic than ever. Where this any other country, stories of such greed and corruption could have been a call to arms, a rallying cry to do something, anything, but no this is Zimbabwe, we don’t do that.
Okay a bit of context for those not familiar with the story. The boss of a state broadcaster – ZBC – a company that failed to pay its workers for more than half a year, was taking home more than $30,000 a month. Employees at the company earn at least an average of $400, meaning he could pay at least 75 of them with his monthly salary, but still went months without being paid.
All things being equal his salary should be paid through levies, which everyone with a TV and radio must pay, so yes it is our money and we have a right to be outraged by such amounts.
The chairman of the board of the state broadcaster ran another company, PSMAS – a medical insurance firm closely linked to the government, as most of the members of the insurance firm are government employees. Reports claim that he would make as much as half a million dollars – yes American dollars – in a month.
Now considering that the gross domestic product per capita is about $788, this means this guy earned 635 times more than the average person on the street produces per year.
Surely we have a right to moral outrage, if this is not enough to get us angry then nothing will.
I find myself asking what has happened to the militancy of old and the resistance we had, when faced with such clear injustices. It is not long ago that we fought the injustice of colonialism, it is not long ago when the trade unions forced the government to reverse sales tax (now known as VAT) increases.
It is not long ago when the people of Harare took to the streets to complain about the rising food prices, in what is referred to as the food riots. University students were once vocal and would have stood up to confront such clear cases of greed.
But instead we have become an apathetic and society. We feign anger, we mutter unprintable words under our breaths, and yet we still do nothing about it. As someone said recently, back in the day people used to feel things and do something about it, now we are content with doing nothing. What a shame!
We have deferred our anger to twitter and Facebook, where we hold robust debates about the injustices we suffer, but our debates, just like anything on these social networking sites, are ephemeral, they will be forgotten by the time we go to bed.
We carry on like nothing has happened and we expect someone to act on our behalf, but who will? I am not saying we should take to the streets or be violent, but we should be seen to be doing something, demanding accountability or even forcing change in the companies that we feel are short-changing us.
How ZBC or PSMAS have been able to pay their bosses this much for so long without as much as whimper from us, is really astonishing. And Again I ask; where is our outrage, where is our sense of anger and how long shall we allow such clear injustices to continue.
Zimbabwe is in a mess because we have given our leaders – both corporate and political – the carte blanche to do as they please with no sense of accountability and the more we allow this to happen the more the country continues to suffer.
Nqaba Matshazi is a Zimbabwean journalist.