How big is corruption in Zimbabwe – $60 billion industry?


President Emmerson Mnangagwa says one of his priorities is to curb corruption and the fight has already begun.

“Acts of corruption must stop forthwith,” he said in his augural speech. “Where these occur swift justice must be served to show each and all that crime and other acts of economic sabotage can only guarantee ruin to perpetrators. We have to aspire to be a clean nation, one sworn to high moral standards and deserved rewards.”

Although several people have been arrested and are appearing before the courts, Mnangagwa has been criticised for targeting only members of the G40 faction of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front while sparing those loyal to him some of whom have been appointed to his cabinet.

Zimbabwe was last year ranked 154 out of 175 countries on the corruption perception index.

Its highest ranking was 43 in 1998 and its lowest was 166 in 2008.

But how bad is corruption in the country?

According to Eddie Cross, corruption has cost the country $60 billion since 1980- that is 12 times this year’s budget.

Cross says this does not take into account the Marange diamond discovery in 2006 which produced over US$22 billion in revenues – nearly all of it simply vanishing.

The Bulawayo legislator also throws around some interesting figures to think about.

He says at independence in 1980, Zimbabwe was growing at about 5 per cent a year and had done so for quite a long time. If this rate of growth had been maintained for the next 37 years, Zimbabwe today would have a GDP of US$52 billion, instead it has a formal sector GDP of only US$14 billion (2016). That is a cost of US$38 billion in lost growth in the formal sector.

“At Independence our population growth was among the highest in Africa at about 3.5 per cent per annum – doubling every 21 years. Astonishingly – had this growth been maintained our population today would be 31 million. Instead it is about 12 million – where have 19 million people gone?” he asks.

He also says at independence Zimbabwe’s national debt was just US$700 million or less than 5 per cent of our GDP. By 2016 the national debt was probably close to US$30 billion – 215 per cent of GDP.

“The debt is made up of State international debt of US$9 billion, private sector international debt of US$2 billion and domestic debt of about US$11 billion with compensation owed to commercial farmers that were forced off their land of about US$10 billion.”


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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