Missing $300m highlights Robert Mugae's corrupt 30 year rule

Zimbabwe is fast becoming a "kleptocracy" judging by the recent disappearance of $174.2-million within government in public funds realised from diamond revenues.

This figure has now risen to $300-million following revelations that another $125.8-million has not been accounted for.

Cabinet on Tuesday discussed this issue following a series of contradictory statements between Treasury and other government departments.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti says he has received a schedule from President Robert Mugabe’s office showing he had been given $174.2-million from the state-owned mining company Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), although he has not actually received the money. ZMDC chairman Godwills Masimirembwa has responded saying Biti has the funds. Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu has not been able to explain the issue.

In fact, Mugabe and Mpofu, who ought to know, failed to explain the issue on Tuesday. In the end, Biti and Mpofu were tasked to do reconciliations of the books.

As we stand, neither Biti, as Chancellor of Exchequer, nor taxpayers know where the money is. However, what we do know is that someone in government knows where the funds are.

Since relevant authorities are unable or unwilling to explain where the money is, it means it has been stolen. This is serious theft and corruption. Government and taxpayers must never allow the culprits to get away with this.

Corruption poses a serious threat to development. In the political realm, it undermines democracy and good governance by flouting or even subverting formal processes. In elections and in legislative bodies it reduces accountability and distorts representation in policy-making; corruption in the judiciary compromises the rule of law; and in public administration it causes inefficient provision of services.

Zimbabwe has partly remained an economic backwater because of corruption. That is besides misrule and mismanagement. Government is riddled with corruption. The country’s private sector is also reeling from corruption in the form of rent-seeking, illicit transactions, kickbacks and bribes, as well as outright theft.

Economists argue one of the factors undermining the development of Africa, is corruption. Although corruption is to be found everywhere in the world, the trouble with Africa is that states are controlled kleptocratic regimes which brazenly steal from the people.

Western countries are guilty of helping dictators and their cronies to siphon off, salt away and stash funds in their banks.

This debate has become more poignant currently because of the fall of North African autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt and hopefully soon Libya. Both overthrown ex-Tunisian president Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt have billions in offshore bank accounts. Western governments are now scrambling to trace their ill-gotten wealth and freeze their accounts and assets. It may be too late, but better late than never.

In France, three African leaders and their families face accusations of embezzling state funds and buying trophies such as penthouses and Ferraris valued at about $150-million.

Pleasure-seeking sons and daughters of dictators have turned holiday resorts all over the world into shopping playgrounds and sex tourist destinations. They galavant around the globe and paint the town red, spending recklessly stolen taxpayers’ monies.

The money stolen in Zimbabwe recently must be returned soon. The culprits must be fired and jailed.

Otherwise, we would be forced to think their bosses who shield them are also partners in crime. Police must not distinguish between thieves and those who protect them. -TimesLive