Zimbabwe is one of those countries adversely affected by the menace of corruption, and this is something that President Emmerson Mnangagwa had promised to fight when he got into power. But a year later since he made these promises, and constantly emphasizing them time and again, nothing substantial has yet happened in line with this.
What Zimbabweans have become familiar with now is what is commonly referred to as the "catch and release" strategy, whereby politicians and other unscrupulous businessmen are arrested on the basis of corruption charges but then acquitted from those charges. Usually, these arrests are just made for political expediency, where the main leadership wants to appear as if they are serious in the fight against corruption. But then if you later release these people what have you achieved?
Another issue with the "catch and release" is that instead of investigating to arrest, the authorities arrest and then investigate. This creates a weak case for the State and ultimately these politicians and uncanny businessmen are released. To the ordinary citizen, it becomes abundantly clear that the "fight against corruption" is farcical, and done at a superficial level. It means the regime is not serious at all about fighting corruption.
There have been many examples this year to prove this. Back in October, it was announced that there were four Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) officials who were behind the foreign currency flooding the streets in Zimbabwe, creating a flourishing black market. The officials were suspended pending investigations, but now the RBZ released a statement saying that these four were not involved in any corrupt activities or impropriety as had been alleged before. It was deflating to Zimbabweans who had been following the story keenly with the hope that these four would be convicted of such corrupt activities.
A former ZANU-PF legislator, Psychology Maziwisa and a former TV presenter, Oscar Pambuka, were released on bail pending a case in which they are alleged of duping the Zimbabwe Power Company of over $12,000. Another controversial businessman called Wicknell Chivayo was cleared by a High Court ruling from any involvement in corrupt activities. An independent legislator, Temba Mliswa, exclaimed on Twitter,
"Corruption lives another day….Whats wrong with this country? Is the judicial system captured too? How will we deal with corruption now? I’m one who had faith in the judiciary now the 3 pillars are looking shaky..its very difficult," wrote Mliswa on Twitter.
Human rights lawyer and former education minister David Coltart said this on Twitter: "If this catch and release strategy of the Mnangagwa regime was not so damaging to #Zimbabwe this would be funny. The gulf between the rhetoric of “zero tolerance of corruption” and real action is widening. Mnangagwa and the ruining party’s smoke and mirrors game is now clear to all."
Another more controversial businessman, Genius "Ginimbi" Kadungure was arrested on fraud charges involving a mining equipment deal, but was later released because " there was no evidence linking Kadungure to the crime." Kadungure was accused of defrauding Zanu-PF legislator Dexter Nduna and a Kadoma miner Enos Gatawa of R1 581 890.
What all this points to is that the so-called 'New Dispensation' is not really serious when it comes to fighting corruption. Some of these arrests are made out of political vengeance, as the Mnangagwa regime will be fighting back against their enemies who tried to bury him last year. Some of the arrests are made without enough evidence which would be necessary for conviction. It's basically all talk and no real action.
What the regime is simply doing is avoiding the real corruption. They want to make it appear as if they are serious about corruption but they are not doing anything. And also, the real corrupt people are even the ones in cabinet, and so again, everything becomes farcical and superficial.
Header image credit: Bulawayo 24