The Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) has noted with concern that the latest results from Transparency International measuring perceptions on public corruption released on 29 January for the year 2018 ranked Zimbabwe in the bottom 20 of the most corrupt countries in the world. Zimbabwe was placed at 160 out of 180 countries. The 2018 CPI draws on 13 surveys and expert assessments to measure public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, giving each a score from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). Zimbabwe scored a mere 22 on the index for the third time in a row.
By comparison other African countries like Seychelles and Botswana have scored higher on the index. Significantly, these countries have a few attributes in common. According to Transparency International they both have relatively well-functioning democratic and governance systems, which help contribute to their scores.
Taken together, what does this mean about the new dispensation’s war against corruption? In view of all the facts mentioned so far, one may safely conclude that the struggle against corruption is a struggle for change and for democracy.This therefore means that, the false discursive on strong man being able to fight corruption needs to be replaced with an anti-corruption narrative firmly rooted in the struggle for deeper democratization.
Therefore,it is naïve and wishful thinking to expect Mr. Mnangagwa to fight corruption in Zimbabwe. Here is why. Previous research noting the experience of other African countries indicated that networks of corrupt officials tend to regroup in about two years, as well as that the major changes could only be made in the first 18 months. This conventional wisdom about a window of opportunity after a new government comes into office is also cited in the scholarly literature. The logic of the argument is that new leaders will be less tied to existing patron–client networks, and more inclined to reform.
Although Mnangagwa has managed to empower the largely toothless and inept Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to arrest senior government officials. At this writing the Commission’s record has lost its luster, largely because of the apparent political selectivity in its operations.The initial case load reflected its intended focus purging political opponents believed to be linked to a rival faction commonly known in Zimbabwe as the G-40. Notably, the list was dominated by the president’s adversaries and included none of his close allies, omitting even the handful of his loyalists publicly accused of corruption in the past.
Then again, those few cases were just a ploy by the authorities to use corruption charges instrumentally to undermine rivals and shore up personal loyalty to the president, and thus have no interest of controlling corruption. To say nothing of all the pre-election clean-ups, generally initiated in response to electoral demands and challenges from the political opposition, designed to consolidate power and facilitate re-election, and implemented through enhancements of legal restrictions and punishments to strengthen allegiances to a single godfather in the ruling party.
In a nutshell, Mnangagwa’s anti corruption war, which is characterized primarily by delays and frustrations, has been a colossal failure. As the latest results from the global anti-corruption watchdog has brought to limelight. The cases have generated far more headlines than convictions, and the acquittal of the former energy minister Samuel Undenge has left the regime with no single case of concrete success.
All things considered, it seems reasonable to conclude that the fight against corruption is never apolitical. Those with political power want to maintain the status quo.The struggle against corruption should not be left to the rulling elite. The political muscle of a broad societal coalition can only win this struggle. Significantly, by allowing social groups with diverging interests and opposing beliefs to join forces, a common platform is needed which unites the fight against corruption with the struggles for social justice and deeper democratization.
For Media Enquiries Call Dr. Prosper Simbarashe Maguchu on +31 6 17 53 08 65. Dr. Maguchu serves as the Legal Services International Coordinator for the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA).
Source: Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-Southern Africa)