Corruption has become the norm in Zimbabwe

Tanonoka Joseph Whande
Thursday, March 22, 2012

Of all the philosophical stunts performed, none reflects the shortage of decency and abundance of cynicism in society than that of Diogenes, the Greek philosopher who begged for a living and made a virtue of poverty.
At midday, Diogenes carried a flaming oil lamp as he roved the streets, claiming to be looking for an honest man.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has threatened to fire anyone of his cabinet ministers found guilty of corruption in the abuse of government funds meant for constituency development.
Tsvangirai cracks whip, we are told.
But Mr Tsvangirai must be warned that “Diogenes looked for a human being but reputedly found nothing but rascals and scoundrels”.
Even in this day of fluorescent lights, Tsvangirai is going to be hard pressed to find a decent man.
We hold Members of Parliament in high esteem because we collectively asked them to be our messengers. And when they source or are given money to assist them to assist their constituencies, we should believe that they are equalisers who will do the right thing for the community.
With that money, they can help starving children, buy books for them, feed the elderly and the little ones at a crèche or improve a road here and there.
Anything they choose to uplift their constituencies. But then how heartless does one have to be to be given such money and then turn around, put that money in their pocket and move away?
Several Members of Parliament, across the political divide, have been implicated in the abuse of public funds meant for constituency development.
The perks they get, ranging from sitting allowances, accommodation allowances, transport, free meals here and there, are not enough.
They want it all for themselves.
I also fear that this practice, touching all political parties as it does, may also present us with further conclusive proof that the MDC, let alone ZANU-PF, ever cared for the people.
MDC lawmakers are being implicated in such disgusting thievery. These are the people we voted for because they were once so observant as to see all the dirty games ZANU-PF MPs engaged in.
Now the MDC MPs are also passengers on the gravy train at the expense of the poor people in their constituencies.
This is organised crime.
When this shameful scandal broke, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson told the Daily News that any MDC party member implicated in corrupt activities, including those found guilty of looting the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), will face the chop.
It sounds good, doesn’t it? Unlike Mugabe, Tsvangirai is looking for an honest man. It would be a commendable move under normal circumstances. But who are they fooling?
We have not heard from Mugabe about any menacing promises of retribution of ZANU-PF lawmakers found guilty of looting the public funds.
I have, however, always lamented the integrity and calibre of our Members of Parliament, who are practically picked off the streets.
Nondescript men and women who are shameless loudmouth praise singers ending up being ‘Honourable Members of Parliament’ at the expense of political decency and meaningful social activism.
I have always warned us to be careful whenever we vote for a Member of Parliament because we entrust the welfare of the nation in the hands of these so-called Honourable members.
A rogue, sweet-talking local can easily mesmerise people in his area and the very next day, he becomes a Member of Parliament.
The one-time vagabond has made it at last! From being homeless to being paid a housing allowance; from walking in sneakers full of holes to driving a brand new 4 by 4 vehicle.
None can believe themselves. These are the men and women we expect to uphold the virtues of our nation and the decency of our political parties.
These are the men and women we look up to and hope for them to fight corruption that is destroying our nation.
These are the people we expect to sit down and map “the way forward” on our behalf.
These crooks are there because honest men and women chose to do nothing about it.
In the end, our parliament is populated by people who are there for their own gain with no national interest.
Even the nation’s custodian of law and order, Attorney General Johannes Tomana, at one time issued a directive to stop arrests of MPs who abused these Community Development Funds… a clear attempt to protect legislators from his ZANU-PF party.
Who are these people and where did they come from?
They cannot govern us or rule our nation; they are burdened with desire to fill their own stomachs and gather more than they can use. Most of our MPs and government officials lack principles. They are slaves of their own greed.
Asked about his trade, Diogenes, who had been sold into slavery, replied that he knew no trade but that of governing men. He had, of course, noticed the inadequacy in those in position of authority.
Diogenes ended his answer with a plea to be sold to a man who needed a master, meaning the governed can govern better than the governors.
Remember that on Election Day!
Corruption, which, in simple terms, is “the use of power by government officials for illegitimate private gain”, is a cancer that no nation needs and which must be dealt with.
It is, however, a curable cancer that this ineffective government of national unity cannot deal with because they all have men and women who have to answer to one thing or other.
While we are still trying to come to terms with the missing Constituency Development Fund monies, we are hit with another Tsunami.
The same men and women who set our laws and regulations and who govern our country and run our nation are not paying their electricity bills at the same time the common people are having their electricity disconnected for non-payment.
Isn’t Mugabe himself ashamed that, in spite of the fact that he and his family live virtually for free, with almost every tab picked up by the common people, and always harasses national coffers, he does not pay utility bills?
It is a matter of decency and Mugabe should honestly be ashamed of himself.
Remember the guy who, about three weeks ago, was sentenced to 10 years in jail for reconnecting electricity to his home after being disconnected for a paltry amount?
How did just four men, Mugabe, Chris Mushowe, Saviour Kasukuwere and CIO supremo, Happyton Bonyongwe run up a bill of more than a million dollars without being disconnected?
A look at the list of defaulters shows that big cats from all political parties are involved once again.
And how did Gideon Gono run up a telephone bill of $800 000? This, clearly, is an indication of the recklessness of these people.
Even Tsvangirai recently admitted to having paid $5 000 towards his electricity bill, meaning that he, like many other top officials, was also defaulting on his payments.
The fact that such large amounts can be accumulated in arrears is an indication of an across the board practice adopted by top government officials.
The heart of the matter is that we have lost our identity and goodwill. We have become a nation with animalistic, predatory instincts.
We watch our sons and daughters kill people. We applaud when our supporters murder our people.
We do not gather to say “stop it”, let alone admit our shortcomings.
We have turned into beasts, paying top money to justify our transgressions against ourselves.
Who are we and what do we want?
How insensitive can politicians get! Our country is going through very rough times and the poor people are carrying the brunt of all the economic ruin brought about by the same people who are literally stealing from us in broad daylight.
Yes, stealing because you can rest assured that most of these monies owed are going to be written off by these overpaid, non-performing parliamentarians.
When elected officials from all political parties, including their leaders, behave in such a manner, who then is going to police the other?
And we are talking about only one parastatal.
None of us alive here today have the authority to do to Zimbabwe what we are doing to this nation.
Zimbabwe never at any time gave Mugabe or anyone the authority to do what he is doing to the country.
We, all of us, are going to pay heavily for letting these people do what they are doing to our nation.
And, the most frightening development is that the MDC is now being caught in the same corruption nets that have always yielded ZANU-PF malcontents as the culprits milking our nation dry.
Yes, my dear compatriots, I am also looking for an honest man. There is talk about elections; we must throw out all the rascals.

I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is to day, Thursday, March 22, 2012.

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