By Blessing Vava & Terrence Chimhavi
|His song corruption was banned-Exiled musician|
Chimurenga Music legend Thomas Mapfumo
Exiled Chimurenga Music legend Thomas Mapfumo is a fiery musician whose music inspired guerrilla fighters during Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence. A fearless and courageous figure who composed a catalogue of songs that made him a target of the colonialist government and many a times he found himself in brushes with law enforcement agents. In the post independent Zimbabwe, Mapfumo or Gandanga as he is affectionately known, continued speaking out boldly against social, economic and political injustices which were now being witnessed in a free Zimbabwe. And in 1989, his smash hit album ‘Corruption’ was banned by the government because the lyrics contained in the song ‘corruption’ were deemed incorrect by a new black administration who seemed to have forgotten why they fought a racist government which only favoured a white minority. The song corruption was produced at the heat of the infamous Willowgate scandal involving cabinet ministers. In the song Mapfumo warned, ‘you can’t get away with corruption watch out my friend they gonna get you, you can’t run away from justice.’ Such was the courage of Mapfumo and as a result the Willowgate scandal claimed jobs and even the life of one cabinet minister Maurice Nyagumbo, who could not stand the embarrassment after his shady deals had been exposed. May His Soul Rest in Peace.
|Chief cuprit in the Willowgate Scandal-the late Maurice|
Nyagumbo drank poison on the 28th of April 1989
after his shaddy deals had been exposed
|Gold fingered-suspended corrupt Town Clerk|
Apart from the likes of Mapfumo and Solomon Skuza raising awareness to the public about the corrupt activities that our dear government was involved in, the media, through newspapers played a critical role in exposing corruption. Those in university even went to the streets to demonstrate against corruption at Willowvale. Remember the famous demonstrations at UZ by the likes of Arthur Mutambara and Enock Chikweche to mention but a few. All these efforts to a certain extent made corruption a topical subject in Zimbabwe and indeed, in the years to come ZANU PF paid dearly. Now, like 1987 and with a unity government corruption seems to have taken its toll and like fashion, everyone is wearing it. It is now a cancer that has been proving difficult to cure. Every day you have to pay an extra dollar than the required for goods or services because of corruption. Those who are supposed to watch over us have turned to be the biggest threats and cannibals who prey on human flesh for their survival. The fighters of crime have become the biggest perpetrators.
From local to central government, the police and private sector, civic society, corruption is now very rampant and sadly those whom we have given responsibility to run the government are now the biggest culprits. Corruption has seriously affected the smooth running of government and the ordinary Zimbabweans continue bearing the brunt. The 2010 Transparency International corruption index ranked Zimbabwe on number 134. It should be noted that a majority of Zimbabweans are generally poor and are living far below the poverty datum line and the gap between the rich and the poor is widening by day. Against such a background the poor are remaining poor and the rich getting richer. The system of today is such that if you have nothing you can’t get anything. If you want a piece of land to build a house you have to bribe, to pass a roadblock, a bribe, to be attended to in hospital you pay a bribe, to get a job, a bribe, driver’s licence, passports you pay a bribe.
Such is the level of corruption that has swept the corridors of our society. So the question of the day which always troubles one’s mind is how the low-income earners are surviving in this ‘dog eat dog’ affair? Thirty two years after independence, a majority of Zimbabweans are still landless despite the Harare administration having claimed to have distributed land. One of the reasons why we fought the colonialist government was because of the uneven distribution of the national cake. AND yet that ‘even’ distribution remains a dream. The reason why we continue to have a black elite controlling the prime land, the same way a white elite did, is because the land was corruptly distributed, in this case along political party lines. The same levels of corruption and nepotism have been taken to the indigenization process and it remains to be seen whether anything positive will come out of the process given the corrupt way through which it is being done. Make no mistake, no indigenous person in their right mind would want to wish away the indigenization process, but this must be done in a transparent and open manner, so that it truly benefits the intended beneficiaries – in this case, the black majority who have and continue to represent poverty in our country.
One of the main reasons why the MDC brought so much hope in the people at its formation was its vivid attack on the corruption and nepotism that was now endemic in Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans are naturally not a corrupt lot (like what we hear of in Nigeria or Equatorial Guinea) and this is the reason why ten years before the MDC was formed, Edgar Tekere, then ZUM leader had managed to challenge Mugabe, riding not only on the fight against a one party state but also against the rising levels of corruption in government. And this is also why even against rampant violence, intimidation and forced starvation, many Zimbabweans have braved the Zanu PF onslaught because they honestly believe that the MDC would end this endemic corruption in government.
However, true to the old age Shona adage, ‘makudo ndimamwe’ (baboons are all the same), our politicians have gone on to prove just how much they value self-aggrandizement at the expense of what they campaign for and promise to the electorate – quality service delivery. The levels of corruption that have been exhibited by local councillors in MDC dominated urban and rural councils are shocking and appalling to say the list. So disgusting is the blatant abuse of office and council resources by some of these councillors that you really tend to wonder if these are the leaders that the people of Zimbabwe really think will reverse the Zanu PF-inspired rot when you can hardly distinguish their love for personal gain at the expense of the poor masses. It is no lie and no joke that the majority of Zimbabweans are suffering, having to live life on the wrong side of the poverty datum line and yet there are still politicians in this day and age who think they can just take the people’s vote for granted, simply because the people have expressed that they are fed up with Zanu PF rule.
The MDC can do itself a big favour by fighting corruption, first in its own ranks and then taking this fight to government. The major reason why the MDC currently feels so impotent in fighting the endemic corruption in local and central government is the fact that their own house is not clean in terms of such corrupt tendencies. There are a lot of ‘leaders’ in the MDC who have mastered the art of corruption better than what Zanu PF has been doing. The recent CDF scandal is just a tip of the iceberg, not to mention the Chitungwiza Town Council debacle. It’s a shame! If it is to reclaim its status as a formidable and competent alternative to Zanu PF’s mismanagement of government, it is all-too important that the MDC declares zero-tolerance to corruption within the party itself. Any politician who wishes to rule this country and aspires for the people’s vote should simply declare zero-tolerance to corruption because the honest truth is that Zimbabweans are fed up with this corruption. Nobody wants to pay a dollar more than what they should in essence pay for any service. This should also serve as a clarion call to the police to desist from corrupt activities and work hard to ensure that this disease is eradicated and that all culprits should be brought to book. For as long as we continue to witness their blatant extortion of money from kombi crews and travellers on our roads, they will remain enemies of the people. For as long as they continue to connive with prosecutors at our courts to release criminals who deserve to be behind bars, the people will not take them seriously. The police ought to be a safety valve against abuse of office and political power by our leaders. If they cannot perform this duty, without fear or favour, then we better not have a police force to talk about. Our current government should at least for once show us that they (as a government) are serious about bettering the lives of Zimbabweans. And there is no better way to prove this than by collectively fighting corruption (and nepotism). It is every Zimbabwean’s responsibility to fight corruption, let’s all join hands for a corrupt free society.
Both authors are from the Committee of the Peoples Charter