THE secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions, David Dzatsunga, has urged policymakers to go beyond lip service if the country is to desicively combat the corruption scourge.
Speaking at the Accountability Lab Zimbabwe’s integrity summit held last Thursday, Dzatsunga said corruption was very rife in the public sector “starting from the top”.
“Addressing corruption in Zimbabwe is still far from being achieved if the policymakers still believe in engaging in just conversations with no strict deterrent measures against the perpetrators,” Dzatsunga emphasised.
“All these conversations of wanting to end corruption with adequate action that encourages the public to act as whistle-blowers, I feel that if there is no sense of sincerity then we are not having an honest conversation around the issue of corruption.
“For example, China is very serious about corruption to the extent that any corrupt dealings are punished severely maybe by cutting off the hands and sometimes I feel that is what we need in Zimbabwe.
“We have seen cases of catch-and-release as people who are robbing are going scot-free and this gives courage to say you can always go unpunished if you play your cards right. You can steal from the public, you can steal from your employer, you can use the money to buy anyone and get away with it. So, it is difficult to address corruption until we have honest conversations, we sit at the table and then we put in place real laws that enforce deterrence.”
He bemoaned corruption in the police and the legal system, saying it was discouraging people from reporting.
“At this stage, it is impossible to report corruption to the police that is already corrupt. The police itself is corrupt, the court is corrupt, and the prosecutor is corrupt. There is a whole chain of the policymakers who are corrupt and I would like to believe that there are even syndicates in the public sector,” Dzatsunga said.
“At one time there was a permanent secretary, I will not say his name, who demanded a token of appreciation whenever he is asked to attend or officiate a public event. During the graduation ceremonies he would demand to be given a breeder bull, a pig bull, and furniture from the polytechnics and his wife would be showered with freebies. This is corruption and he would do that openly at a national gathering.”
He said the generality of Zimbabweans had come to accept that corruption is normal and are paying people who are supposed to provide them a service.
Speaking during the summit, a ministry of Primary and Secondary Education director, Taungana Ndoro, said corruption in the education sector has been normalised by parents who are now paying teachers to do extra lessons.
“The teachers are now extorting money from parents as a fee for extra lessons, but the problem now is that what the teacher was supposed to teach from 7.45am to 1pm is now the lessons that she/he will do after school with those that have paid. It is now a disadvantage to those that cannot afford and as the ministry we strongly condemn such behaviour,” Ndoro said.
“Therefore, as the ministry of Education, we urge all people to shun away from paying teachers to do the work that they are already being paid for. I would like to confirm that Zimbabwean teachers are being paid well and their salaries are lucrative enough to cushion their needs.”
Dzatsunga commended the Accountability Lab for having an Integrity Icon initiative that appreciates honesty in the public sector, saying it could help inspire others to do their work with truthfulness.
Several speakers said members of the public were unwittingly aiding and abetting corruption by paying officials to expedite service provision.