Amongst a plethora of promises that marked the hallway of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s election campaign in the previous plebiscite was an unwavering fight against corruption, particularly in high ranking offices of public enterprises and central government.
Prior to this, Mnangagwa had ran a charade targeting political protagonists from the Mugabe regime, deemed corrupt, with few notables being hauled before the courts, albeit with no conviction made to date.
For that reason, fueled by the fact that a few other “corrupt” officials from the ZANU PF party remain untouched has downplayed all efforts Mnangagwa might seemingly roll out to stem the scourge of corruption.
The launch of the 2018 Auditor General Report last week becomes the biggest test to Mnangagwa’s anti-corruption rhetoric since coming into power.
Shocking details of chronic malfeasance and extravagance in the government emerged in the auditor general’s latest report, with glaring evidence of misappropriation of public funds.
On countless occasions, President Mnangagwa has dared, “My Government will give zero tolerance to corruption.”
For perspective, of the 179 state enterprises and Parastatals only 76 submitted financial statements for audit.
Among notable scandals emerging from the report, Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission Development Company, (ZETDC) had not delivered transformers procured nine years ago after making a US$ 4.9 million payment to Pito Investment.
The same contractor was paid in advance an amount of US$ 561 935 by the Zimbabwe Power Company in 2016 and the same company has not delivered.
The auditor general also exposed Air Zimbabwe’s unaccounted expenses worth US$ 14 million with another US$ 27 million suspense balance unaccounted for.
The Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC) was also found wanting. The council continues to outsource printing services despite spending US$ 3 million in 2016 on its own printing press, resulting in Zimsec paying a cumulative US$ 2.1 million for printing the June and November examination papers.
The rot went on and on across all tiers of the government.
“Clearly, there is one thing that the Mnangagwa administration has done, it has been to identify where corruption is, at which we have been told Kasukuwere is corrupt, Chombo is corrupt. This just proved corruption is there just as the auditor general has proven,” political analyst Claris Madhuku says.
“What then comes into question is what then is the impact, what are the measures taken to deal with corruption. What will happen to those who have been found on the wrong side and I think Mnangagwa is having a nightmare on that , how does he balance those corrupt but loyal to him,” he added.
In 2017, Zimbabwe ranked 160th out of 175 countries in Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index and since then a series of corrupt scandals have emerged without any convictions made as yet.
Interestingly, of late the chorus to root out corruption is sweeping across the political divide.
Last week, youth wings from the ruling party, ZANU PF and the opposition MDC parties castigated the escalating levels of corruption with the former compiling a list of senior party and government officials it believes are corrupt.
Despite ZANU PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo assuring the nation that the party would establish a commission of inquiry into the persons accused, there is widespread public apathy.
“To me this confirms the behaviour of ZANU PF, the culture of the government. People see the government positions as platforms to loot and if Mnangagwa fails to address this problem starting from his party first, he will not have the decency to do it at government levels,” political analyst Charles Nyoni said.
Reforming corporate governance in all state enterprises will be crucial for the economy going forward and this will include rolling heads at all entities were the rot has been exposed.
However, for Mnangagwa, the matrix of balancing the fight against corruption while protecting loyal cadres who are fingered in most of the allegations made so far becomes the greatest challenge.
But with a volatile economy, sliding on the brink, how much more can one man handle before heads begin to roll.