In Zimbabwe, corruption has been debated and written about for quite some time, that most citizens predicted that by now corrupt elements would be facing the wrath of the law, but unfortunately the country still has a long way to go. The greatest lesson that Zanu-PF can learn from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is the way they deal with corruption.
Tangible measures are in place like heavy fines, seizure of property, incarceration and in very severe cases death sentences.
It is thus imperative for the country to take lessons from China because further delays or failure to restrain corruption will ultimately ruin Zimbabwe.
Corruption causes many political, economic, social and environmental challenges.
The Chinese government, led by President Xi Jinping, is in the midst of a sweeping anti-corruption campaign that has led to thousands of arrests.
According to the Associate Press, in 2018, more than 1 000 Chinese fugitives who fled abroad were returned to the country and more than $519 million in ill-gotten gains was recovered.
These figures were confirmed by the ruling CCP in what is seen as a further victory in President Xi’s years-long drive against corruption.
The party’s anti-corruption watchdog said among the 1 335 returned, 307 were party members or government employees, including five on a list of 100 most-wanted Chinese corruption suspects handed over to Interpol.
In his book, “The Governance of China 1’, President Xi outlines his government’s practical and hardline approach to the problem.
He said historical wisdom will help the country combat corruption and uphold integrity.
“We must draw upon the fine culture of clean government in Chinese history, steadily improve the party’s leadership and governance skills, and become better able to combat corruption, prevent degeneracy and ward of risks,” said President Xi.
“To improve party conduct, uphold integrity and combat corruption, we need to continue the best practices the party has long accumulated, learn from other countries’ beneficial experiences and draw upon the valuable legacy of Chinese history.
“China’s history of combating corruption and its ancient anti-corruption culture offer enlightenment, as do the failures and successes of the past. This historical wisdom can help us do a better job in combating corruption and upholding integrity today.”
Lessons from China: Confronting the enemy within
The genuineness and commitment by President Xi’s administration to eradicate corruption is the most notable thing.
Hence, the ruling Zanu-PF party should fight corruption in all its structures. This will help curb colossal corruption evident in present-day Zimbabwe, particularly in Government structures where high-ranking bureaucrats co-opt the system and enrich themselves.
There have been reports in the media where Government officials awarded themselves or their friends State tenders, taken bribes and abused office for their personal gains.
China set up the Central Commission for Discipline and Inspection (CCDI), an internal watchdog on corruption and graft in the ruling CCP, to deal with internal corruption within the party structures.
The ruling Zanu-PF should emulate the CCDI because it is not just a paper tiger.
Said President Xi: ‘’Worms can only grow in something rotten.’’.
His emphasis that fighting corruption from within the ruling party is critical because corruption by party and government officials is the instigator.
An interesting case is that of one untouchable Bo Xilai — former member of the CCP’s Central Committee Political Bureau — who was tried on charges of taking bribes, embezzlement and abuse of power and received a life sentence.
Additionally, in March 2018, a former deputy mayor of Lualong, a Chinese mining city, Zhang Zhongsheng, was the first official to be given a death sentence after he was found guilty of taking US$150 million in bribes.
To date, as many as 182 000 officials have been reportedly punished for corruption and manipulation of power since President Xi came to power.
If the ruling Zanu-PF adopts such firm and unbendable steps in the fight against corruption, it will send the correct signals that graft and mismanagement of State resources will not be tolerated in Zimbabwe.
There is need for strong political will to decisively root out offenders and give deterrent sentences that will stop would-be offenders.
President Xi said: “Through a thorough review history in China and elsewhere, our party has realised that improving party contact and upholding integrity and combating corruption are vital for the survival of the party and the state.
“The key is remaining firmly reliant on the people, maintain close ties with them, and never become isolated from them. To achieve this, we must do everything in our power to address corruption and other negative phenomena, see to it that the party always identifies with the people, and shares their concerns and ultimately their destiny.
“All party members must understand the political importance of this issue, stay alert, strictly adhere to the ‘two musts’, improve our working practices, and crack down on corruption with a strong determination.”
Zanu-PF should grasp the opportunity and draw lessons from the CCP’s zero tolerance to corruption.
Therefore, drastic changes in the Zimbabwean law and legal procedures should be undertaken, otherwise the continued pussyfooting with offenders by naming and shaming them before releasing them only encourages more corruption.
In his book, President Xi outlines the tough measures his government took to restore discipline in a nation in which corruption had reached crisis proportions.
He made it clear that if the leadership is honest, citizens at all levels will be afraid to engage in corrupt activities.
President Xi pointed that it will remain part of the CCP’s political strategy to combat corruption because building a corruption-free party is at the heart of the people.
“To achieve this, we must do everything in our power to address corruption and other negative phenomena, see to it that the party always identifies itself with the people, and shares their concerns and ultimately their destiny,” he said. “We must follow the spirit of leaving a mark in the iron tools we clutch and the footprints in the stones we tread and continue to win popular trust with new victories in the fight against corruption.
“We must raise public awareness of the need to combat corruption and uphold integrity, promote a culture of clean government, and combine the rule of law with the rule of virtue.”
President Mnangagwa must borrow from the resilience of President Xi to deal with the cancer of corruption in a way that will fortify the party and the economy.
For ages, only the boldest and most daring leaders ever have had the guts to challenge corruption because the risk is too great.
It is widely perceived that fighting corruption can be disastrous to political careers because many politicians and influential people do not tolerate anyone interfering with their source of livelihood.
The Chinese government, under President Xi, made it clear that ending graft is critical for national prosperity.
These unbending measures on fighting corruption from a Chinese perspective can be highly effective if they are implemented in Zimbabwe.
What’s needed now is an effective way of rooting out corruption and graft, particularly that of top Government officials.
Should the Second Republic be serious about ending corruption, then President Xi’s stance on corruption might very well be the antidote to Africa’s corruption problems.