MP says corruption is worse than AIDS because it kills the innocent


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Former Deputy Minister of Finance David Chapfika says people must get rid of corruption because it is worse than HIV/AIDS because it kills the innocent.

“The only number one enemy worse than HIV/AIDS is corruption because corruption kills the innocent. At least HIV/AIDS kills those who would have committed themselves to multiple partners and other things like that or misconduct, if it is not a baby.

“But, corruption as innocent as you are, you will just have somebody around you changing that environment making it impossible for you to access medical facilities and making it impossible for you to fly Air Zimbabwe, making it impossible for you do so many things that you were supposed to have done,” Chapfika said in his contribution to the debate on good governance.

Chapfika said he was a victim when he was a government minister and tried to play straight by refusing to engage in black market activities and urged his employees to do the same. The result was that his business suffered.

“I said to my workers do not participate on the black market because I do not like people playing on the black market I am the Deputy Minister of Finance and I will not subscribe to that. So people were busy buying Zimbabwean dollars and exchanging it on the black market and I said to my workers do not do that.

“However, I paid the ultimate price because I ended up with quintillions, sextillions and so on in the bank. When the Governor, to his wisdom, decided to remove the zeros, I went down with zeros because all my money was in the bank and I said I was foolish,” he said.

Chapfika said when he was in Ghana, Jerry Rawlings introduced the firing squad to get rid of corruption and he succeeded.

“When I was an expatriate manager in Ghana, I went to Ghana in 1990 and that is when Jerry Rawlings was President. I am sure the majority of you read what was happening that time. The country had just got into power through a military coup and there was virtually nothing in Ghana that time; you could hardly get a crystal sweet on the shelf in Accra.

“When he got to power, he said anybody who engages in corrupt activities will go to the firing squad. He said all the jails are full and no more mercy to corrupt people. Those of you who were in Ghana during that time saw what happened; all thieves could be lined up at a firing range.

“There were Zimbabweans who were there that I know including Brigadier Shiri. I went to witness it and the public would go to watch and say these are the thieves, what do we do with them. They would go through the due processes and if you are convicted, they said there is no point in keeping you, all our jails are full.

“I am not saying we should go the same route, but I am saying from that time, no one would steal, you could leave your car keys on the ignition, I would leave my car doors open and nobody would touch it. That culture is still there. You would leave the doors open and nobody would do anything. That was Rawlings who did that.”

Chapfika suggested that maybe Zimbabwe could create a village for corrupt people because there was no way that the government’s economic turnaround programme, ZimAsset would succeed if there was corruption.

“The ZIM ASSET document is clear on that, but yes this 10% of our total population who are corrupt are tarnishing all the good things that the other people are doing and they must be dealt with, even if it means locking them up into a fence if the jails are full. We can fence them somewhere or create a village somewhere where we can say you people get corrupt in that place.”

 

Full contribution:

 

MR. CHAPFIKA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I rise to add my voice. Before I do that, let me congratulate Hon. Madzimure for a timely motion which is relevant to the needs of the people of Zimbabwe. I do so with a heavy heart. A heavy heart in that we sit in this Chamber pursuant a very bitter armed struggle where more than 50,000 people died. It would appear that we seem to be forgetting why our forefathers, from the days of Lobengula, Kaguvi and Mbuya Nehanda, what they died for.

We seem to be forgetting what we were fighting for. Before I proceed Mr. Speaker, I also need to acknowledge that there are many who are honest citizens amongst us, who have committed themselves to hard work, who have distinguished themselves in whatever service they are in, and they have shunned corruption. What corruption does is that, such people pay the price because corruption is a disincentive to work ethic and hard work.

We have been talking about PSMAS which was the first to be unearthed about corruption, and many more are coming day in, day out. Those people who are alleged to have committed these crimes, do they realise the institution that they are managing, that it is to do with life and death? Somebody walks away with $400,000.00 that is known or unknown. I do not know, it could be millions of dollars, when the ordinary worker who earns $150.00 does not even receive treatment. But, because of non-subscription of that institution to the medical aid community, the same employee is denied access to medical facilities. Where is the heart of such an individual?

This goes across all sectors. We do not need to reward criminals, but that is what corruption does. His Excellency the President, during the inauguration of this House, was very clear on corruption and he continues to be clear that corruption, pasi nayo. It is important that the arms of Government, the arms of the State respond to that call. Members of Parliament, one after another, we have all been unanimous. We have added our voices one after another, but what will happen after all our cries? So my call to Members of Parliament in this Chamber is, let us look at the current legislation in its entirety.

There is need for a paradigm shift in the way we do business. We have got a new Constitution. We looked at it under a normal environment before all these revelations which we see today. We now need to accept that we are a developing country. We are not a developed country. Wars that apply in United States of America may not necessarily apply to a developing country. We need to ensure that we revisit because we have got sector Parliamentary Committees that provide oversight on each Ministry.

My call is that; let us look at the statutes that govern the operations of the Ministries that we provide oversight on and say, are they consistent? Recently Mr. Speaker, my Committee was looking at the Sovereign Wealth Fund Bill which the Minister is still debating. There were issues which we raised. I remember one member of the Committee raising the issue that, this is standard. The issue of where is that law or that clause which has to do with corporate governance; it says a company that is standard. When we fought the war of liberation, nobody told us about standard. We knew what we wanted. We wanted our country, independence, sovereignty and we wanted to determine our own destiny. There were no standards to talk about.

So we need to revisit and say what we are doing now, is this what we wanted? We need to review all this. We have gone over 33 years since independence and this is our 34th year. We now need to revisit. We have got all the time to ensure that the statutes are consistent to our values and to the values of the people of Zimbabwe. We are not a basket case. Zimbabwe is not a basket case but, we are making ourselves a basket case because we are promoting laziness. Like I said, a corrupt society is a lazy society. Corruption breeds laziness. It does not promote hard work and it does not promote work ethics, and for a developing country, I am still to see or to read in the history, any country that has developed in an environment of corruption. So as long as we do not deal effectively and competently with corruption, then alas! I say to the emancipation of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is endowed with mineral resources and educated people. We have got all the resources that we need including the human resources but instead of directing the resources to productive efforts, the resources are being directed towards corrupt activities and that is very sad.

When I was an expatriate manager in Ghana, I went to Ghana in 1990 and that is when Jerry Rawlings was President. I am sure the majority of you read what was happening that time. The country had just got into power through a military coup and there was virtually nothing in Ghana that time; you could hardly get a crystal sweet on the shelf in Accra. When he got to power, he said anybody who engages in corrupt activities will go to the firing squad. He said all the jails are full and no more mercy to corrupt people. Those of you who were in Ghana during that time saw what happened; all thieves could be lined up at a firing range.

There were Zimbabweans who were there that I know including Brigadier Shiri. I went to witness it and the public would go to watch and say these are the thieves, what do we do with them. They would go through the due processes and if you are convicted, they said there is no point in keeping you, all our jails are full. I am not saying we should go the same route, but I am saying from that time, no one would steal, you could leave your car keys on the ignition, I would leave my car doors open and nobody would touch it. That culture is still there. You would leave the doors open and nobody would do anything. That was Rawlings who did that.

I saw him recently at a wedding, he was in this country and I said this old man saved Ghana. Even though he is no longer President, he did a lot. In South Korea, what did General Parker do to save the country? People died and people were driven into concentration camps during the liberation war, herded like cattle. You would see elderly people rushing with their walking sticks, “yowe zuva rakudoka ndakuenda kucamp, vachimhanya, chembere wachidonha, wachitinhwa, totamba nezvinhu zvakadaro isu’. We have to take decisive action.

Any distortion which is deliberately created by mankind in itself breeds corruption. The distortions between the three Arms of Government; Judiciary, Executive and Legislature, those distortions are there as a result of corrupt activities by some individuals in the Government. They must be addressed – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – it is not adequate to debate those issues. The important issue is to use the correct technical committees that we have, that is, our committees that we have. Those committees are so effective because we can summon anyone and no one should stop us; no one has got the power to stop the power of the people that is behind us.

We are here through the power and mercy of the people so we should not underestimate ourselves hon. members. We seem to demean ourselves before others demean us, if we do not respect ourselves, add our voices and stand to our beliefs, who are they, Peter and John to respect us. We need to ensure that we respect ourselves.

Mr. Speaker, like I said from the onset, I rise to add my voice but as I do so, I do so with a very sad heart. The international communities who have access to what we are debating in this Chamber, it would appear that all of us are corrupt in Zimbabwe. What has been happening in the parastatals, it takes two to tango. It may be a tip of the iceberg, maybe there are bigger things happening in the stock exchange, there are bigger things happening in the corporate world in the private companies.

Whatever we do, we put in place legislative arrangements. When we put in place corporate governance and we review corporate governance issues, it must cover the totality of the Zimbabweans.

I was saying to my colleagues the other time, those of you who have faith and have heard about the Guatemala prophecy, a prophet in Guatemala prophesied that Zimbabwe is going to be the richest country in terms of per capita income. I shared this with colleagues in my committee and still believe that we are going to be the richest country.

What is happening now in terms of all these things which are being reviewed or manifesting themselves, it is an opportunity for us to correct ourselves and ensure that we focus on production to ensure that the people who are affected most; the ordinary person and the people who have gone to the diaspora have to come back. We have to create that environment.

We know that there are sanctions, we appreciate that but we are applying further sanctions on ourselves if we engage in corruption – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – we have all agreed sanctions are there and they impede on activity. We should be disciplined and united but you cannot unite when you know your neighbour is looting and nothing is happening to him. Those are distortions and people will rebel against distortions. Countries have survived sanctions; China is one good example which is going to be number one within the next few years.

They have survived sanctions because they are united. Cuba, Malaysia and many other countries that I can talk of were subjected to severe economic sanctions because some people wanted to advance their own interests. We are subjected to sanctions because we have been advancing our own interests and we have achieved that. We have got our land, there is indigenisation, and we are acquiring shares in mines and all that. We are now a truly independent sovereign nation.

The only number one enemy worse than HIV/AIDS is corruption. Because corruption kills the innocent. At least HIV/AIDS kills those who would have committed themselves to multiple partners and other things like that or misconduct, if it is not a baby. But, corruption as innocent as you are, you will just have somebody around you changing that environment making it impossible for you to access medical facilities and making it impossible for you to fly Air Zimbabwe. Making it impossible for you do so many things that you were supposed to have done.

Let me give you an example of a personal experience regarding my own personal company. When I was Deputy Minister of Finance, I spoke passionately against the printing of money and this is the first time I am talking about this. I was passionate and I think Dr. Kereke would agree with me. I was agreeable to ‘targeted’ printing of money to finance certain specific sectors. But, untargeted printing of money without control of the movement of that cash, I said no.

That was the time that I also had my own private company which I still have. I said to my workers do not participate on the black market because I do not like people playing on the black market I am the Deputy Minister of Finance and I will not subscribe to that. So people were busy buying Zimbabwean dollars and exchanging it on the black market and I said to my workers do not do that. However, I paid the ultimate price because I ended up with quintillions, sextillions and so on in the bank.

When the Governor, to his wisdom, decided to remove the zeros, I went down with zeros because all my money was in the bank and I said I was foolish. Maybe I should have just participated in the black market. Others were now holding on to their United States dollars because every day they were participating on the black market and I was saying no. That is why I said certain bad activities hurt the innocent most. They hurt the honest people most. So, we need to be aware.

The Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Economic Transformation (ZIMASSET) is a noble document with very clear guidelines, terms of reference and timelines. The only threat to that document is corruption because somebody will say, what is in it for me personally and if people think like that, we might as well take that document and put it in the drawer.

So, the call by my colleagues that we cannot oversight things that we do not see or that we are not involved in, it may be the right time now for us to provide even oversight on the engagement of some of the critical appointments so that we also take ownership. Then my call Mr. Speaker, to this House is for the statutes to be revisited to ensure that we put screws for the next ten years until such people, after we are gone can also be able to take over with good governance principles. If we create a clean environment our children will grow in a clean environment as well and society will be normal. You will find that you will not need very stringent legislation in future.

In the developed world Mr. Speaker, may be you do not even need Governments there because in Slang we say they do thega. It just happens because the systems work. We are still a developing country and we have to build our systems. It requires discipline, commitment and an attitude of work ethic. That is what we need. So, we cannot swim in the same river or dam with somebody who has got life servers and I do not have life servers and then I will pretend to want to jump in the same dam which I do not even know how deep it is. That is what we are doing. We are just picking legislation from Sweden and say this is how they do it in Sweden. We forget that our environment is different. We are still developing. We must come up with legislation which is tailor made to our circumstances. That is how we should do it.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order honourable member, five minutes only are remaining, can you wind down.

MR. CHAPFIKA: Thank you I am actually winding up. There is unanimity in this House that this scourge of corruption has to stop because it is affecting us as Members of Parliament. Yes sanctions are there, but the resources are not being equally distributed and therefore we are stuck in hotels and we cannot get out of them. You cannot leave; they say pay first and there is no dinner. I cannot go to my constituency and there is no fuel. There are no constituency offices and there are no vehicles. The coupons are not there. No, we cannot have that – [AN HON. MEMBER: We cannot celebrate poverty]. There is no equity in that.

I raised this issue with Minister Chinamasa in our meeting in Victoria Falls and I said I am really summoning you to my Committee and time should come when we Members of Parliament, the Speaker was at pains to say you honourable members exercise your authority.

Time should come when we should call Ministers to account for what they do. It is important. We are the ruling party and there is now a one party Government. It is now a one party State. ZANU PF is ruling and there is no doubt about that. We should be able to speak clearly on the people’s needs to ensure that we are in power forever and ever and ever again. This is an opportunity that is before us. Let us not abuse it. We are there to ensure that the needs of the people; the workers and farmers are supplied.

The ZIM ASSET document is clear on that, but yes this 10% of our total population who are corrupt are tarnishing all the good things that the other people are doing and they must be dealt with, even if it means locking them up into a fence if the jails are full. We can fence them somewhere or create a village somewhere where we can say you people get corrupt in that place.

So, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for giving me this opportunity and for adding my voice to my colleagues and it is my hope Mr. Speaker, that when we get back to Committees, we relook at our respective statutes and the Ministries that we provide oversight and ensure that they are in tandem with a developing country and with the spirit so that they address the challenges that are before us. I thank you.

(17 VIEWS)

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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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