EDITORIAL COMMENT: Rent seeking behaviour has no place in the Second Republic

12 Jun, 2019 - 00:06 0 Views
EDITORIAL COMMENT: Rent seeking behaviour has no place in the Second Republic Some of the youths who extorted money using President Mnangagwa’s name at the courts in Bulawayo

The Chronicle

CHINA — the world’s second biggest economy and a shining model for poor nations seeking economic transformation — couched its reform and opening up policy on zero tolerance to corruption and all forms of rent seeking behaviour. 

While the main thrust of the policy was socialism with Chinese characteristics and socialist market economy where the country allowed market principles after years of Communist policies, the Government realised that the new-found wealth and prosperity would inevitably invite all forms of corrupt tendencies. 

The Communist Party authorities began economic reforms in 1978 under President Deng Xiaoping and carried them out in two stages.

The first stage, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, involved the de-collectivisation of agriculture, the opening up of the country to foreign investment, and permission for entrepreneurs to start businesses. 

The second stage of reform, in the late 1980s and 1990s, involved the privatisation and contracting out of much state-owned industry and the lifting of price controls, protectionist policies, and regulations.

The private sector grew remarkably, accounting for as much as 70 percent of China’s Gross Domestic Product by 2005. 

From 1978 until 2013, unprecedented growth occurred, with the economy increasing by 9.5% a year.

The success of China’s economic policies and the manner of their implementation resulted in immense changes in Chinese society, including greatly decreased poverty while both average incomes and income inequality have increased.

In the midst of all these changes, the Chinese government had to contend with managing this process and its huge population. 

Corruption has been a source of public discontent in China because of scandals involving highly placed leaders, day-to-day incidents of minor corruption and the sheer inefficiency or negligence by local cadres.

When he took over the reins of power, President Xi Jinping vowed to crack down on both “tigers” and “flies” — powerful leaders and lowly bureaucrats — in his campaign against corruption and petty officialdom. 

“We must uphold the fighting of tigers and flies at the same time, resolutely investigating law-breaking cases of leading officials and also earnestly resolving the unhealthy tendencies and corruption problems which happen all around people,” President Xi said in 2013. 

China’s experiences have an uncanny resemblance to the situation in Zimbabwe. Under the New Dispensation, President Mnangagwa has also declared zero tolerance to corruption and also decried a culture of slothfulness, inefficiency, dishonesty and rent seeking behaviour in the civil service.

He has embarked on a series of reforms to put the economy on a path to growth by trimming the government bureaucracy, cutting profligate spending and introducing other belt tightening measures. 

The trajectory of the country has changed under President Mnangagwa and this has been acknowledged by multilateral financial institutions that have praised the country’s economic policies and the wider international community that has begun accelerating the process of re-engagement with Harare. 

Granted, corruption was endemic in the First Republic and the process of uprooting it will take time as it had permeated all facets of life.

However, the fact that it has begun and claimed the scalp of both “flies” and “tigers”, should be commended.

In this regard, we applaud the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the National Prosecuting Authority and other agencies for spearheading this fight.  

Yesterday, we reported of three men from Kwekwe who were arrested for allegedly masquerading as officers from the Central Intelligence Organisation sent by President Mnangagwa to take over a mine in Shangani.

Their arrest followed that of Blessed Mushando (27), a Zanu-PF youth member in Bulawayo, who allegedly also used President Mnangagwa’s name to extort US$12 000 from Ms Priscilla Ncube, the owner of Tobo Mining Syndicate in Shangani. 

He allegedly misrepresented himself, telling Ms Ncube that she should pay US$12 000 to President Mnangagwa for her to secure the mine.

Their modus operandi was apparently rife during the First Republic where officials often used former president Robert Mugabe and the ex-first lady’s names to engage in all manner of shenanigans and criminal activities. 

This behaviour was not confined to lowly officials but often escalated to higher offices in Cabinet where Ministers demanded bribes from prospective investors to facilitate access to the President. 

This is the mammoth task confronting President Mnangagwa — he has to clean house while getting the economy back on track.  In all this, he needs the support of the nation. 

Every Zimbabwean has a duty to report any form of corruption or rent seeking behaviour wherever it occurs. Our judiciary system also needs to play its part by meting out deterrent sentences on all those found on the wrong side of the law.

In the case of Zanu-PF youths who are in the habit of using the President’s name in their nefarious deeds, we hope they have been put on notice. 

The law shall be applied without fear or favour and they will meet their comeuppance. They cannot claim to be supporting the President while soiling his name by engaging in criminal and corrupt activities.

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