Sunday Mail editorial
Writing for Silicon Africa in August 2013, Mawuna Remarque Koutonin (“The New Rich in Africa!”) spoke of a study on the relationship between corruption and national development. Koutonin said “the research concluded that corruption is not by itself a problem for a country’s development, instead the most crucial factor is: ‘what people do with the money they have stolen’.”
He also said, on, “Furthermore, the study stated: ‘In some cases, corruption can be an effective state-building tool, as it enables the co-optation and accommodation of divided elites and thus consolidates political power.’
“The main finding is that money from corruption in East Asia was used by the corrupted people to start new businesses and build factories, while in Africa the money was mainly used for consumptions and non-asset-building investment.”
It is an argument — drawn from the findings of the research by Dr Alex Kupatadze of Kings College London — which very few people, especially in Zimbabwe, would want to agree with.
Dr Kupatadze is not alone in his thinking.
British political philosopher and historian of political thought Dr Mark Philp is also a believer in “good” or “organised” corruption.
He has said that “if corruption is an established way of doing things, it can lead to predictability, which is important for economic development”, and that there is a real danger that “tackling corruption becomes a Western-imposed model to deal with the messy reality of business in poor countries”.
Dr Kupatadze and Dr Philp are not the only dons who have swallowed so much big book that they believe there is a justification for corruption if it leads to “development”.
Here in Zimbabwe, some believe that they can be Robin Hoods, never mind that the law has absolutely no provision for the caprices of princes of thieves.
It is a false religion that extols the virtues of supporting “public programmes” or “corporate social responsibility” or whatever mantra is the flavour of the month, but conveniently ignores the law.
We will not even speak of the ethical considerations lest the matter at hand be bogged in the dark arts of moral relativity.
The endless attempts by our public officials — people whose salaries we pay — to justify corruption are indicative of how little disregard some in our midst have for the rule of law.
People have become so accustomed to getting away with daylight robbery to the extent that they get angry when their anti-Zimbabwe actions are called into question.
What Zimbabwe needs is to set an example. It needs to send a strong message to all citizens that no one is above the law. It needs to make it unambiguously clear that laws must be respected and the people of this country deserve respect.
The arrogance of officials who unashamedly declare that they looted public funds and used them how best they saw fit should not be tolerated.
The conceit of the criminal-minded in our midst is such that they cannot even proffer an apology — even a half-hearted one — when they are called to account.
They believe the people of this country have no right to question their actions and demand transparency in their operations, especially with regards to how our own money is used.
The laws applicable to us mere mortals should not apply to these demigods who believe that there are thresholds of corruption that determine which cases of graft warrant public attention and prosecution, and other cases that must be pursued with vigour.
But what is good for the gander is good for the goose. And when your goose is cooked, let dinner be served.
We cannot continue to have an approach to corruption such as that spoken of by Ayi Kwei Armah in his book, “The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born”.
He says, “The (anti-corruption) net had been made in that special Ghanaian way that allowed the really big corrupt people to pass through it. A net to catch only the small dispensable fellows, trying in their anguished blindness to leap and attain the gleam and the comforts the only way these things could be done.
“And the big ones floated free, like all the slogans. End bribery and corruption. Build socialism. Equality. Sh*t.”
We have laws. These laws must be implemented regardless of who the accused is or who the accuser is.
And anyone seen frustrating the work of those who are tasked with fighting graft must themselves also be shamed for shielding crime and thus perpetuating it.
Zimbabwe simply cannot afford to allow the rot to fester any longer. The people of this country deserve better.
Sunday, 16 October 2016
Sunday Mail editorial