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TMCNet:  Take Heed of Justice Chinhengo's Call

[April 12, 2014]

Take Heed of Justice Chinhengo's Call

(AllAfrica Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Zimbabweans have been frustrated in recent months by the frightening level of corruption in State enterprises, parastatals and local authorities -- which comprise the bulk of the public sector in economic terms -- where senior managers have been paying themselves mega packages in what has now been termed "salarygate".


The lack of good corporate governance in State enterprises, parastatals and local authorities has been glaring, leaving the bosses to do as they pleased for the past five years, at the very least.

Yet good corporate governance is important in every sphere of society, whether corporate environment, the political environment of the general society. It helps improve public faith and confidence in the political environment and this is why there should be concerted efforts to fight corruption and uphold the national interest.

And the majority of the executives who have been enriching themselves are well aware of these basic facts of good corporate governance.

It is against this background that we welcome the call by former High Court judge Justice Moses Chinhengo for Parliament to enact a code of conduct for Vice Presidents, and Cabinet ministers and their deputies to ensure accountability and to tackle corruption and abuse of office.

The scandals that have hit the parastatals in which the chief executives and other senior executives were awarding themselves huge salaries that are not commensurate with their performance and service delivery have heightened the need to have a code of conduct.

The salary and tender scandals have been taking place in the presence of permanent secretaries and ministers, and had these officers been carrying out their oversight roles, such malpractices would not have taken place or would at least have been curtailed.

Last year alone the executives in State enterprises and parastatals gobbled US$133 million in salaries and allowances, a figure that could have been drastically reduced were it not for corruption and the lack of corporate governance in the organisations.

Corruption harms everybody because it is based on injustice and there is no economic and social development to talk about in an economy riddled with such levels of graft.

This is why Justice Chinhengo's call for a code of conduct should be taken seriously if we are to turn around the fortunes of our country.

There must certainly be a code of conduct that the politicians must abide by, that instructs their operations and conduct when they hold public office.

They should declare the assets they hold upon assuming public office and upon leaving. This enhances transparency and accountability.

The consequences of being caught offside must clearly be spelt out in the code of conduct. It should not just be a document but should be enforceable with those that violate held to account.

It must be clear on the offences and the punishments stemming from them for any violations of the code of conduct.

Going by reports carried by the local media in recent months, it is a fact that corruption is bleeding the economy and only benefiting a few selfish people.

That all this corruption and poor corporate governance was taking place right under the watch of Cabinet ministers and permanent secretaries is what gives weight to the call for Parliament to enact a code of conduct and ethics for senior Government officials.

It is our hope that the call by Justice Chinhengo does not fall on deaf ears as doing so would spell disaster for the country because self-interest will continue to override the national interest.

The speedy enactment and implementation of such a code would do the country more good than harm and the faster authorities take heed of it, the better for us all.

Copyright The Herald. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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