By Tinomudaishe Chinyoka
After the fanfare of some high profile arrests and a heavy dose of the National Prosecution Authority’s catch and release policy, things are a little quiet on the anti-corruption crusade.
Of course, you would think that this means we have become less corrupt as a nation. But, you would be wrong. Corruption has become so endemic that it is now possible to say that if you threw a rock into a crowd, you would be very luck to hit someone that was not corrupt.
I wanted to change a foreign driving licence the other day, the process is supposed to cost RTGS$500.00. So l placed a call to someone that works at CVR, to find out the queuing situation so that l know when to go. The person, instead of talking about queues, was eager to point out that in addition to the money aforementioned, “pane inohodiwa ye vakomana yokushanda”. Out of interest, not that I would ever pay a bribe, I ask how much that is. “US$250.00”, he replies without even so much as a pause.
The air ticket to fly back to the foreign country and simply renew the licence there is less than that. And this is someone being paid to do their job? Why?
I have written here that l am building a home in Mberengwa, the land of my fathers. My neighbour, who it turns out doesn’t like me. I did him no wrong, mind, besides refusing to have him build the house as I already had a contract with someone.
So, every time I am in Harare, he holds meetings with people working for me and tells them to ask for more money every week because “zvinhu zviri kukwira”. It is now cheaper for me to bring labourers from Gweru, pay them, provide them with food, and transport them back to Gweru than it is for me to hire villagers from my own home. Shame.
And the corruption? Oh, he has promised them that they will definitely get paid more, and in return all he asks is “a modest 50% of the increment.”
We bought mbeu the other day. The particular cultivar that my mother wants wasn’t on the shelf. I approached the attendant nearby, who was wearing the shop’s uniform. But to be sure, I asked if he worked in the shop, to which he replied in the affirmative. On hearing my issue, he offered to go look in the storeroom at the back. After 15 minutes or so he was back with the good news, it was available.
I should have known something was amiss when he insisted on walking me outside despite the fact that I would have managed perfectly. At the car, I gave him a tip, parting with all the green and purple notes I had in my pocket. Did he say thank you? Noooo. Instead I got “mudhara haikona kudaro, mashaya kana ka 10 yusa hako munhu wandatsvakira mbeu kudai?” It’s his job!
You are extorted when you park your car in a guarded car park. You are extorted when you stop at Showgrounds to give people lifts. Everyone and their pet wants to make money from activities that they are hired to perform or where they put in zero input costs. It’s shameful.
Back to ZACC. It might be that they are keeping their powder dry for a really big catch. Hopefully. But one tends to think that it’s more likely that they have run out of steam given that since this whole fight against corruption started, there is not a single person in prison for corruption. Or it might just be that those we think should be visited are too small for ZACC to bother with. Either way, it is just sad.
Tinomudaishe Chinyoka is a qualified lawyer and social worker, living in Harare where he practices as an Advocate. He is a member of the ruling Zanu PF. Follow him on @TinoChinyoka