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Mnangagwa told to intensify lifestyle audits





THE government has been urged to intensify lifestyle audits for political elites and public office holders to deal with rampant corruption, a local pressure group has said.

This comes a day after President Emmerson Mnangagwa joined the rest of the continent in marking Africa Anti-Corruption Day where he called for tougher action against graft and faster conclusion of corruption-related cases.

It also comes as Zimbabwe continues to lose close to US$2 billion every year to corruption and when Mnangagwa is under pressure to deal ruthlessly with the scourge that has been ravishing the country for the past two decades.

Following the arrest and subsequent firing of Health minister Obadiah Moyo over a US$60 million scandal involving Drax International, the Zimbabwe Coalition of Debt and Development (Zimcodd) at the weekend said the government must publish information on public sector procurement projects, including the cost.

"Zimbabwe is a signatory to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) of 2005, which came into force on December 14, 2005. It must therefore, studiously apply key mechanisms to fight corruption enshrined in Article 5 of UNCAC in the public sector such as preventive measures, criminalisation and law enforcement, international cooperation, asset recovery, and technical assistance and information exchange," Zimcodd said.

The organisation added that authorities must also introduce steep penalties for perpetrators of corruption in public institutions.

"Strengthening the justice delivery system to ensure that corrupt business moguls and politicians are brought to book and compulsory declaration of assets by officials when they join and leave the public sector will go a long way in combating the vice," Zimcodd added.

Farai Mutondoro, a researcher with Transparency International Zimbabwe, said corruption in the country had resulted in a marked increase in fiscal deficit and debt.

"A huge chunk of the debt in Zimbabwe is a result of high-level corruption and bad governance, that is, the offloading of elitists' debts onto the shoulders of taxpayers through the Reserve Bank Debt Assumption Bill and the Zimbabwe Asset Management Company.

"To deal with the unsustainable debt in Zimbabwe there is an urgent need for the prioritisation of public finance management in the national anti-corruption strategy," Mutondoro said.

Another researcher, Vincent Chakunda, concurred with Mutondoro that Zimbabwe's mounting debt burden arising largely from non-concessionary foreign loans since the 1980s compounded by the prevailing economic problems have retarded economic growth, with far reaching implications on the capacity of public sector institutions and local authorities to invest in capital projects, infrastructure development and deliver services.

"The pursuit of populist public policies by the national government and the rise in political and bureaucratic corruption all compounded the prevailing challenges, further weakening the capacity of local authorities to deliver services," he said.

"Rampant corruption and abuse of borrowed funds have resulted in the ballooning of the debt without a corresponding improvement in the quality of local services."

Information ministry secretary Nick Mangwana, however, said Mnangagwa and the government were working on fighting corruption.

"In a short space of time … Mnangagwa has proved that in his fight against corruption, there are no sacred cows. He has said it, he has proved it," he said in apparent reference to the recent sacking of Moyo and former Tourism minister Priscah Mupfumira, who was arrested last year on a US$95 million corruption charge.

"Mnangagwa is a very measured man with a temperate disposition. He is not a populist and his decision making is primarily informed by the national interest. He knows the power of his office and always resists hysterics in decision making. He is taking us home," Mangwana added.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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