Who do the commissions serve in Zimbabwe?

Who do the commissions serve in Zimbabwe?
April 5th, 2012

Tanonoka Joseph Whande

I am nauseated by this week’s reports surrounding Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and that revolting man, Phillip Chiyangwa.

For a few years now, these two have been in the media for the wrong reasons. These two are the epitome of ZANU-PF arrogance and corruption; they are in the news to show exactly how ZANU-PF operates and to prove that if you are well connected, you can literally get away with murder. Ask Joseph Mwale.

Did you know that we have an anti corruption commission whose main responsibilities are “to combat corruption, theft, misappropriation, abuse of power and other improprieties in the conduct of affairs in both the public and private sectors”?

The anti-corruption commission is also empowered “to make recommendations to the Government and to organisations in the private sector on measures to enhance integrity and accountability and to prevent improprieties”.

The Commission was rightfully given wide ranging powers, among which are the power “to conduct investigations and inquiries on its own initiative or on receipt of complaints; and to require assistance from members of the Police Force and other investigative agencies of the State”.

Most importantly, the Anti-Corruption Commission is, through the Attorney-General, “to secure the prosecution of persons guilty of corruption, theft, misappropriation, abuse of power and other improprieties”.

I am not aware of anything meaningful that this Commission has undertaken. No “big fish” have been investigated and brought before the courts for corruption.

Both Chombo and Chiyangwa are prime candidates for thorough investigation and prosecution if this Commission is to ever justify its existence otherwise it is just another outlet created to protect, not prosecute, corrupt ZANU-PF big wigs and to practically short-circuit law and order in fervour of Mugabe’s cronies.

The issue of Ignatius Chombo’s amassing of wealth, including houses, land, vehicles, chalets and other expensive acquisitions is a matter of public record, thanks to a messy divorce that brought out into the open the wealth that his spouse wanted to share.

The list of Chombo’s possessions as published in the media leaves everyone wondering how anyone could amass so much property and wealth at a civil servant’s salary within such a short period of time.

Chombo is reported to own dozens and dozens of plots, houses, stands and other properties around the country, including a mine.

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) took its time and is only now saying they are going to be investigating Chombo.

Ironically, ZACC is moving in “to investigate allegations of corruption and abuse of office involving Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo” because “businessman Phillip Chiyangwa reportedly illegally acquired vast tracts of land in and around Harare”.

Harare Mayor, Muchadeyi Masunda, has confirmed that, indeed, senior members of ZACC had been to see him “looking at issues to do with corruption and abuse of office arising out of the land audit”.

Does ZACC not want to investigate how the Mugabes “own a staggering 13 farms, covering more than 15 000 hectares”, while Mugabe’s close relatives own more than twenty farms?

Is this not corruption that needs to be investigated?

I agree that corruption destroys the economic and administrative backbone of a nation.
“The politicians, the bureaucrats and the criminals gain at the cost of the common man…the people remain poverty stricken…”
Corruption leads to economic stagnation and both the people and the nation suffer.
Corruption creates poverty; corruption hinders the nation’s growth.
But ZANU-PF “stalwarts” do not care about all this. They want more and they are taking more than they need.
That is the unfortunate thing about greed; you just amass what is not yours while the next person starves to death.
Greed is merciless as Zimbabweans have learned from their government officials led by Mugabe.
With corruption, the poor stand no chance of improving their lives and yet a government is in existence to improve the people’s lot, after all, it is public funds being used.
The state of affairs in our country cannot be allowed to continue.
If ZACC does its job well, I expect that one day, Mugabe and his people will go on trial for these heinous crimes. We are going to audit everything in our country and those who survive will pay dearly for these transgressions, which are literally killing our nation, our children and our people.
“Business and politics can never be separated. You have to be affiliated to the correct political party and know the right people to pursue while you are at it,” Chiyangwa told some students at the Midlands State University last week. “When I started the AAG 20 years ago, I told some of my friends that I support Zanu PF and they ignored me. Right now most of them are poor because they did not follow my advice.”

While I am over-awed by Chiyangwa’s buffoonery, I am more dismayed by whoever it was who invited him to give an academic address to students at such a prestigious institution of higher learning.

Are there people out there who really wish for their children to take Philip Chiyangwa as a role model? It is not an issue of money but has everything to do with decency.

Yes, decency, which is why I am not impressed by the plethora of commissions set up to monitor areas such as media, corruption and even human rights.

I am not impressed by the composition and work done so far by the Human Rights Commission, the media Monitoring Commission and the anti-corruption commission.

The heart of the matter is that the setting up of such commissions has not given us the confidence that there is a watchdog monitoring those among us who are prone to bending the laws here and there.

We have been discouraged by commissions such as the media commission, which unashamedly promotes partisanship by favouring ZANU-PF apologists instead of serving the people of Zimbabwe.

We have seen how the police have abandoned their professional mandates and started to behave like an extension of ZANU-PF, arresting victims from opposition political parties who showed up at their doorstep to seek protection or to complain instead of going after the culprits.

While we appreciate the setting up of an anti-corruption commission, we expect such commission to execute its duties impartially, diligently and faithfully not in a manner that defeats the cause of justice or the purpose for which it was set up, like the Media Monitoring Commission.

We are still not impressed by the Human Rights Commission for the same reasons because their work is terribly partisan.

When such commissions are set up, the composition of those appointed to the commission must be made up of democrats who believe in the equal application of the law and who are independent servants of the people. But we have seen ZANU-PF apologists being literally hand-picked to such commissions, thereby leaving no doubt in our minds that such commissions are a facade to protect ZANU-PF people and to let them have their way at the expense of fellow citizens.

Transparency should be evident even in the choice of such commissioners and such an undertaking should not be left to the president.

The president has his finger in too many things, taking the mandate from parliament, which, by its nature, is expected to be basically neutral after thoroughly debating topics.

While these commissions are necessary and have important roles to play in our nation, they must, of necessity, be unfettered and independent of political influence; they must be free to do their work without looking at the President who might have appointed them. Our commissioners must owe no one anything so that they can deliver impartial judgements and decisions, unlike what we see now when even our judiciary is heavily tainted with political patronage.

Just look at the unprofessional behaviour of Johannes Tomana. Is that man an attorney general of Zimbabwe or of ZANU-PF? Shameful, is it not. This is the man who, along with the anti-corruption commission, is expected “to secure the prosecution of persons guilty of corruption, theft, misappropriation, abuse of power and other improprieties”.

Be that as it may, the anti-corruption commission is supposed to make recommendations to the Government and to organisations in the private sector on measures to enhance integrity and accountability and to prevent improprieties.

What has it achieved so far in a country that is so much mired in corruption, starting with Mugabe himself, all the way down to the Village Development councillor?

Chiyangwa and Chombo are offering this commission an opportunity to justify its existence.

I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Thursday, April 5th, 2012.

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