Zimbabwe should declare corruption a catastrophic disaster- MP


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Bikita West Member of Parliament Munyaradzi Kereke has called on the government to declare corruption a catastrophic disaster and also to investigate who is fuelling it.

In his contribution to the debate on the Premier Services Medical Aid Society scandal Kereke said it was sickening to go through the excesses that were prevailing at PSMAS where 11 executives pocketed $119 million between 2009 and 2013.

Chief executive Cuthbert Dube earned on average $13 000 a day during that period yet the society could not pay doctors leading to patients being turned away and some dying.

“We need to say when you see a fire burning; you need to say what is sustaining that fire? Is it that there is someone putting more firewood or someone is putting more oxygen to it? What is sustaining the fire?” Kereke said.

“I think the issue of corruption has become institutional in our country and we need to say as Parliament, perhaps to add on to Hon. Cross’s prayer to the august House, we need to declare corruption as a major catastrophic disaster for our country.

“The budget framework which was presented in Victoria Falls reduced the expected national Budget for the country to around US$4billion which is a figure it has been static at for the past five years. We need to say for a country as rich as we are, how is it that we continue to shrink our operations to a static budget of US$4billion year in year out. The answer lies in our capacity as a country to fight this octopus this creature called corruption.”

Kereke asked why a government minister was gainfully employed somewhere else when the constitution says ministers should not be gainfully employed elsewhere while in office.

“You have a full cabinet minister who says publicly – it is called capitation in our industry, they were paying me for services I had rendered, and it is allowed to pay in excess. Meanwhile the Constitution does not allow that practice. So, I think we need to introspect and say as Parliament, let us separate matters that relate to our political demographics. Let us isolate those matters that affect the nation as a whole.”

 

Full contribution:

 

HON. DR. KEREKE: Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me the opportunity to also add a few comments, a few views on the motion by Hon. Cross. The subject is corruption and I think the House needs to broaden the scope much wider than just PSMAS. I want to thank Hon. Cross for using PSMAS as the entry point to the discussion by the House of this animal called corruption.

I support Hon. Majome who spoke before me that we need to look at our Constitution and look at what it says. Section 119(1) bestows upon Parliament the responsibility of protecting the Constitution. What that means in my view is that whenever we see violations of the Constitutions, it is Parliament’s duty to intervene and take action in defence of the Constitution. If we look at Section 106, (1) to (3), describes certain behaviours that Hon. Ministers should do.

One such behaviour is that an hon. member of the Executive is not supposed to be gainfully employed elsewhere whilst they are serving. You have a full Cabinet Minister who says publicly – it is called capitation in our industry, they were paying me for services I had rendered, and it is allowed to pay in excess. Meanwhile the Constitution does not allow that practice. So, I think we need to introspect and say as Parliament, let us separate matters that relate to our political demographics. Let us isolate those matters that affect the nation as a whole.

The forensic audit that Hon. Cross spoke to is very telling and I would suggest that Parliament makes a formal request for the forensic audit so that hon. members can individual go through it. To say the least it is sickening when one goes through the excesses that were prevailing at PSMAS. We need to say when you see a fire burning; you need to say what is sustaining that fire? Is it that there is someone putting more firewood or someone is putting more oxygen to it? What is sustaining the fire? I think the issue of corruption has become institutional in our country and we need to say as Parliament, perhaps to add on to Hon. Cross’s prayer to the august House, we need to declare corruption as a major catastrophic disaster for our country.

The budget framework which was presented in Victoria Falls reduced the expected national Budget for the country to around US$4billion which is a figure it has been static at for the past five years. We need to say for a country as rich as we are, how is it that we continue to shrink our operations to a static budget of US$4billion year in year out. The answer lies in our capacity as a country to fight this octopus this creature called corruption.

Parliament Hon. Madam Speaker did pass several statutes to deal with corruption. There is the Anti-Corruption Commission – we do have laws that deal with other criminal activities that border on the fringes of corruption. The question is why are our institutions not doing what they should be doing? Where are those institutions? That is the question which I think needs to come out very clearly from the deliberation of Parliament to then cause those institutions to account and call upon Government to take action in defence of the welfare of our nation.

The Anti-Corruption Commission would you tell you that ‘we are limited in terms of resources, we do not have resources do discharge our functions’ and several other excuses they would have. Some of them genuine but again it boils down to the work that we do as Parliament. At the time we are designing and commenting on the crafting of national budgets, I think it is time that we should look at the functionality of key of our institutions like those institutions that are instrumental to the fight against corruption. We need to ensure that they are adequately resourced; they have the capacity to then address the scourge of corruption.

In any process, we start from somewhere and I want to firmly support the motion as proffered to the august House that let us call for some sanity, some accounting at PSMAS. The forensic audits, only go so far as articulating financial prejudice, I can confirm to you that in the medical area where I do have interest elsewhere, lives have been lost as a result of the carnage at PSMAS, the financial pilferage. Lives have been lost. You get a victim of a road accident whose is holding a PSMAS medical aid cover, they go to some emergency rooms, and they are denied service. They delay for an hour, two hours, turns into a day they pass on. All those losses can be connected to the malfunctioning financial processes at PSMAS.

The argument that PSMAS is not a public institution; it is an institution where Government has no direct control; I think that is an inadmissible argument for two reasons. The first reason is that the predominant contributor dollar for dollar into PSMAS is government itself. The second reason is that itself being society funded through public contributions, makes it an institution of public interest and government has the duty to exercise oversight over public interest. So, I want to urge the august House that like Hon. Chinotimba said, we need to unite and perhaps it is one of those few motions where we must agree as Parliament not to debate ad infinitum, not to elongate our debate, we debate, we debate. This is a crisis topic which affects not just PSMAS, it affects GMB, ZMDC in mines, MMCZ and even ZESA where US$2.4b was spent over the past five years. If you say where did the money go, people start to quiver, they do not give straight answers.

I want to further propose that Parliament treats this as urgent business and makes its resolution as quickly as possible, preferably even before the end of the year so that we can go into the new budget with a new air of having action points that are dealing with corruption. I want to thank you.

(53 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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