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Accountability solution to corruption
Mike Davies
December 19, 2012

The Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, appears to believe that moving procurement from Local Authorities to the State Procurement Board will end corruption and reduce inefficiency. I somehow doubt it and the Minister himself has little faith in the SPB (see Biti slams Tender Board" Newsday, 22 Feb 2012). The eighty-nine local authorities in the country will now be sending their tender documents to a centralised body for approval: it is unlikely that this small and opaque body will be able to handle the volume of work suddenly dumped upon it, even if the SPB is itself can avoid corrupt practices.

The solution to corruption and inefficiency is institutionalised accountability and transparency, not dictatorial centralisation. Make the councils publish every last detail of all municipal transactions online so we, the ordinary citizens, can carry out our own audits, using the power of crowd-sourcing to expose corruption. Backed by an independent media, we have the capacity to examine council business and expose questionable activities. For example, let us have the full details of what the City of Harare has spent on water chemicals, who they have purchased these from, and who are the directors and owners of the companies who supplied the chemicals. Harare is our city, these are our elected officials and our employees so why should we not be fully informed? Any bureaucrat or politician opposing such a suggestion obviously has something to hide or seeks to perpetuate the system of opacity and corruption.

However there is a bigger question that the Minister-s dictate raises - has he forgotten which party he belongs to when he acts this way? Does he remember the meanings of "movement" or "democratic" or "change"? "Movement" in its political sense implies a gathering of many people of differing opinions for the purpose of achieving specific goals, "Democratic" means a process of involvement of many people in political decision making - the exact opposite of autocratic. And, of course, "Change" means doing things differently from the past.

Nothing that we have seen in the past 3 or 4 years leads one to believe that any of these qualities are being upheld by the MDC-T. From the imposition of an unelected Mayor in Harare (and one who by his own admission was only approached by the party on the morning of his swearing-in and who belongs to no political party) thereby over-ruling the democratic process, to the arrogance of some councillors who, having being elected, now think they are beyond accountability, one may be forgiven for assuming that we were conned by those in democratic sheep's clothing who were actually wolves wanting their piece of the pie. The ordinary members of the MDC-T should be on their guard against the influence of our insidious political culture on their party: patronage, patriarchy, personality cultism, violence and intolerance should be opposed if they wish to avoid ending up becoming ZANU-Lite.

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