WHEN a country has a competent leadership, most people do not really care who is at the helm of the ship of state.
It is only when the rulers fail to fulfill their end of the social contract that citizens begin asking serious political questions about the manner in which their country is being governed.
In fact, if someone asked you the name of Switzerland’s current head of state, you would be hard-pressed to come up with the correct answer.
This is because most people will not obsess with political names and ideologies — as long as the leaders achieve performance legitimacy.
In Zimbabwe, the society has become predominantly hyper-polarised because the clueless leaders are fixated with self-aggrandisement rather than socio-economic progress. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in his omissions and commissions, is a constant reminder of what happens when political elites prioritise power for power’s sake instead of placing citizens at the centre of statecraft.
This past week, the Zimbabwean government’s propaganda machine has been in overdrive. Western sanctions, we are told, are the real reason why the country’s economy is in tatters.
But true to the adage that “whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad”, the truth has a way of coming out in astonishing ways.
While Mnangagwa and his minions were frothing at the mouth about “illegal Western sanctions”, the Office of the Auditor-General was dropping a bombshell.
As it turns out, the major sources of Zimbabwe’s problems are corruption and failed leadership.
When Mnangagwa took power in 2017 on the back of a military coup, only three state-owned enterprises had failed to submit their financial accounts for audit.
But by December 2022, the number of non-compliant parastatals had risen to a shocking 51.
This is not only an indictment on Mnangagwa’s craft competence as head of state and government but also prima facie evidence of his own personal culpability in Zimbabwe’s decay.
It is scandalous that the Zimbabwean government has not done much to tackle mismanagement and corruption in parastatals, despite the annual reports from the Auditor-General highlighting the malfeasance.
There is simply no political will to fight graft. Tackling mismanagement and corruption in parastatals requires strong political will and commitment from the government.
Since government officials themselves are involved in corruption or benefit from it, they are reluctant to take action. Inevitably, corruption has become deeply entrenched within the system, making it difficult to address without challenging powerful Zanu PF individuals, interest groups and crooked bureaucrats.
The rot runs deep that even the public institutions we expect to tackle corruption are themselves neck-deep in all sorts of iniquities.
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) — a Chapter 12 institution which is constitutionally mandated with fighting corruption — has failed to explain to the Auditor-General how it spent US$21 078 in public funds.
There are no invoices or supplier documents justifying the suspicious payments. In another scandal, Zacc paid US$345 918 for the purchase of 10 motor vehicles, but only 5 were delivered.
Public funds could go down the drain. Who will guard the guards?
Patronage and political interference are rife. Parastatals are seen as vehicles for rewarding political loyalty or providing employment opportunities for supporters.
The Zanu PF system of political interference and patronage have created a culture of impunity, where those responsible for mismanagement or corruption are shielded from accountability. Mnangagwa’s failed leadership has ruined Zimbabwe.