AS far back as December 2012, President Robert Mugabe publicly declared that he had been briefed that his ministers solicited for bribes from investors intending to set up business in Zimbabwe.
At the time Mugabe told the Zanu PF annual conference held in Gweru that former South African President Thabo Mbeki had confided in him that a minister demanded a bribe of as much as $6 million from a prospective investor.
He was also told that the ministers use his name to solicit for bribes claiming that his palms also had to be greased.
Mugabe threatened to fire ministers who would be implicated in such corrupt activities.
However, months after that statement, no high level government official has been arrested for graft despite the president’s repeated threats to act. The government has admitted that the country has not been getting enough revenue from the Chiadzwa diamond fields because of high level corruption.
For the past two months there have been reports in the media, including State-owned outlets, exposing corruption at various levels of government. Senior government officials have been fingered in the corrupt activities that have brought State-owned enterprises to their knees, but Mugabe and law enforcement agencies have not acted.
Last Friday, Mugabe had another story to tell about an unnamed minister who allegedly demanded a $70 000 facilitation fee from a prospective investor.
He said an official from Parliament also demanded $50 000 from the same investor. As usual Mugabe promised to act on those implicated, but it may as well be another idle threat.
Until a high ranking government official is taken to court to answer charges of corruption, the government’s commitment to fight graft will remain questionable.
The fact that Mugabe’s warnings to his lieutenants to repent have not been heeded would lead many to think that he is not serious about fighting corruption.
Claiming that whistleblowers are reluctant to volunteer information would no longer wash because the corrupt are being exposed everyday, but are not be punished.
It is high time Mugabe went beyond rhetoric when dealing with corruption.