No sacred cows in corruption crusade

Zimbabwe’s Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has called for zero tolerance to corruption. Describing corruption as a cancero, the Vice President there no sacred cows in dealing with corruption in the country. Our Senior Writer Lovemore Ranga Mataire (L.R.M) recently spoke to Vice President Mnangagwa (E.M) who is also responsible for administering the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

L.R.M: You have recently called for Zero tolerance to corruption but despite your call, it seems corruption cases are soaring by the day. Is there something that the government is missing or is not doing in dealing with this issue?

E.M:   This country needs to deal with this cancer. This is not the responsibility of one institution. The entire entire nation must fight corruption where it rears its head. From what we hear, what we read in newspapers and so on, it does appear it has taken roots and requires ruthlessness in dealing with it. It may be very hard but it’s good for the country.

L.R.M: When you say ruthlessness, what do you mean?

E.M: What I mean is that wherever it is discovered, it doesn’t matter at what level, people must be brought to book, to account in the courts.

L.R.M: Still on the issue corruption. How do you respond to allegations that the corruption crusade is only targeting “small fish” and leaving out the “big guns,”?

E.M: I believe the Press should be able to publish the facts, allegations are galore- left, right and centre but you don’t take someone to court without evidence. So it is necessary that where allegations have been made our own institutions which deal with investigations of such matters should be strengthened so that they do their work properly.

L.R.M: Are you happy with what the Anti-Corruption Commission has done or is doing to curb corruption?

E.M:  I haven’t seen a lot of cases initiated by the Anti-Corruption Commission coming to court. Maybe it’s too early to judge them. But I believe they will do something about it and something will be done to ensure that they execute their mandate effectively. But as I said the burden should not be that of the commission alone. If any citizen finds corruption, he or she must report it to the police.

L.R.M: How do you respond to the perception that the Anti-Corruption Commission is just a toothless dog?

E.M: Wherever they think they have no power, I am sure they can come to government and seek the powers which they lack. They come to us and say in this area we have no power and then it is discussed and debated in parliament.

L.R.M: I am asking this question of corruption in the context of recent remarks by President Mugabe complaining about improper selling of residential stands meant for youth.

E.M:   I can’t comment on that. The Ministry of Justice does not make investigations just as the Office of the President and Cabinet. That you need to check with the Ministry of Home Affairs.

L.R.M: You chair at least four committees and all of them have something to do with the economy. Are you happy with the progress made in reviving the economy?

E.M: Look, I think you must say what Zimbabwe has that as a country we can leverage on to revive our economy. The first thing to note is that we are an agricultural based economy. We have land, so must develop our agriculture and the results must be hinged on our ability to be able to deed our people. Then we will not be using our resources to import food as we are currently doing. We are importing from Zambia, South Africa and yet these funds could have been channeled to other sectors in the country. So the first thing is that we must be able to feed ourselves and we the land to do so. What other resources do we have? We have minerals and among the minerals you must say which of the minerals? I understand we have 19 of the major 21 minerals in the world. So we must say of all these minerals which minerals can we anchor on and say on this one it can be done, which does not require much capital? One of such minerals is gold. For instance, the Ministry of Mines was able to grow output from less than 10 tonnes per year to about 20 tonnes per year last year and this year they are targeting 24 tonnes of gold. Yet this production is just for 8 hours. Imagine if they were to make the shifts 24 hours, how much gold output will the country have? Yes we have platinum but platinum takes up to five years to produce. And we have other minerals like chrome. My personal view is that mining can contribute to the growth of this economy. I think in the mining sector the low hanging fruit is gold.

L.R.M: So are you happy with the revival?

E.M: We would need much more. But I think we are focusing on the correct trajectory to grow the economy. Yes we have the constraints of sanctions and so on and the current low prices of commodities as well as minerals but I think what we need to deal with are volumes. I am satisfied that as far as agriculture is concerned, I believe that this current season the country will change in terms of food sufficiency. I also believe that the sector will also contribute significantly to the fiscus.

L.R.M: You are saying the country’s economy will grow even with sanctions in place?

E.M: We can’t go to sleep because we have sanctions in place. It doesn’t help. If you produce your gold there will always be a market out there. We have a job to do as a government. We have come this far even with sanctions; all we need is to prioritize on the key sectors that I have mentioned.