On Thursday the 25th of July news outlets went into a frenzy as in the morning Tourism Minister Prisca Mupfumira was taken into custody to answer charges of corruption in connection to previous cases. Immediately the bandwagon started to chant that the newly appointed anti-corruption commission was finally going what needed to be done.
Many more commented though that this was not the first arrest we’ve seen and that this high profile case was likely to be another instalment in the catch and release game that our enforcement agencies have been playing with those believed to be behind corruption in public institutions and organisations.
Understandably corruption is a hot topic and the actions of the anti-corruption commission really should not come as a surprise with President Emmerson Mnangagwa having previously breathed fire as the commission members were appointed. The country is in a terrible state and people are suffering. Corruption has been identified as one of the leading causes of our problems, but is it?
In a previous article on corruption, I highlighted some of the types of corruption that we come across and how they work. Corruption is largely a matter of ethics and ethical behaviour. That is to say, the link between corruption and poor performance is not always direct. This is not to say that corruption is neither problematic nor present in Zimbabwe, it certainly is both.
Have a look at FIFA as an organisation. FIFA is no stranger to corruption. The next edition of the Men’s Football World Cup will be played in Qatar. A nation that has never played in a world cup will host it, the first time since the second edition hosted by Italy in 1934. Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter is currently under investigation in regards to the awarding of that World Cup. FIFA is no stranger to a corruption allegation here and there but their performance financially grows stronger as World Cups have been profitable before a single ball is kicked as far back as 1998.
Mismanagement is a failure to appropriately carry out the running of an organisation or entity due to incompetence, incapacity or another inability. If we are to make progress in our nation we need to identify the correct problem. Take a look at our electricity situation. We have grown our population since 1980, moved a greater number of people from rural to urban areas while making strides in rural electrification. Surely at some point increasing our generating capacity should’ve come up in that discussion. The additional technology advancements should’ve been another sign that we needed more capacity.
Mismanagement is a failure to produce and doesn’t always have corruption behind it. Many will be quick to point out that ZESA’s mismanagement is either caused by or coexist with corruption. That is an astute observation and I must state clearly that distinguishing between the two does not make them mutually exclusive. Steiger’s law states that an organisation will spend more energy preserving the structure of the organisation than achieving the goals of the organisation. That is an example of mismanagement at work.
The two can exist together as we’ve seen and sometimes one is a cause of the other. However, the point of this article is to say diagnosing one without diagnosing the other will leave us none the wiser. We could end up with a very ethical group with poor performance because we believed corruption was our only enemy. Just like failure success is the coming together of many factors to produce results.
As the Mupfumira case or cases unfold the nation looks on with a slight disinterest. They have heard it all before. However, if this is the beginning of a battle with corruption in earnest then perhaps they should also use the same broom to sweep out non-performers and the incapacitated as well.