Home » Governance » A Bold Step Forward for Development [editorial]

Many Zimbabweans have been waiting for the arrest of bigwigs implicated in corrupt dealings.

It is understandable that people should feel that way.

After all, it is the ordinary citizen who feels the brunt of selfishness and downright greed that manifests itself as a city official buying a car with water money, or a boss at a medical aid society paying himself a few million dollars while services are non-existent.

It is normal to feel anger — and then apathy when such arrests do not come.

We still wait to see the arrests despite the decline in standards of public service delivery we still retain optimism that the police, anti-graft and other relevant stakeholders still retain within their ranks enough upright men and women to do the right thing.

But perhaps more important is the need to root out the rot of criminal avarice that has so blighted our country over the years.

Arresting offenders is a very crucial aspect of this: but minimising such criminal activity is even more valuable to us as a society.

It is a clicheacute but it still holds true — prevention is better than cure.

We need mechanisms that go as far as is humanly possible to ensure public money is not wasted on the luxurious proclivities of officials who believe that they have a God-ordained right to stuff themselves sick at the trough while the rest of the country endures deprivation.

As such, we welcome the crafting of the National Code on Corporate Governance.

From what we know so far, this is a broad attempt to instil basic minimum standards (at an acceptably high level, too) of corporate governance in Zimbabwe’s economy.

This is the first time ever that Zimbabwe’s public sector will be governed by a national code of conduct and it is important that it gets buy-in from all citizens from the word go.

It is also of utmost importance that the authorities responsible for its enforcement are serious about it right from the start.

What we need to see is the National Code on Corporate Governance getting legislative bite by way of enactment of appropriate laws and statutory instruments to make it both binding and enforceable, with sufficiently hard-hitting punitive measures for those who are found to be wilfully on its wrong side.

Such action should be taken as soon as it is formally adopted by Government.

It is also significant that this is a code that has essentially been crafted by the private sector.

Major economic players like CBZ and FBC banks, the Institute of Directors, Old Mutual, Delta Beverages, Zimplats and KPMG were behind its crafting in collaboration with Government.

In all, more than 20 major private companies and even more individuals had an input.

This means that we expect there is already wide-ranging support for the code in the private sector.

This is of immense value because in as much of the media exposure on corruption has been on the public sector, the private sector is a major driver of graft on a grand scale.

It is the private sector that has much of the criminal sophistication that facilitates illicit financial flows from our country to offshore havens, creates markets for looted minerals and wraps all the dealings up nicely in the cushy language of contract law and private property rights.

So it is good to see the private sector and Government working together to create a National Code on Corporate Governance.

We need to see all Zimbabweans also coming on board to support this national initiative.

This, by any measure, is a bold step in the right direction.

Source : The Herald