A manager for state grain firm Grain Marketing Board (GMB) stole maize and seed meant for poor villagers and resold it on the black market, earning himself more than $1000 a day, Now Daily has learnt.
The scam came to light after villagers in the northern Hurungwe district made reports to anti-corruption NGO Transparency International (TI-Z).
“A sizeable number of villagers complained against a specific official who was abusing government’s grain and seed scheme,” said TI-Z’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC) in a report. “For example, a 50 kilogramme bag of grain which is supposed to be distributed for free is sold to villagers for US$10. In a day, the official, who was the depot manager would pocket close to $1000 from this gross misappropriation of public resources.”
GMB staff who leaked the information were victimized and dismissed from the Hurungwe depot, said TI-Z in a shocking dossier on corruption in Zimbabwe titled ‘The Human Cost of Corruption’.
“This scam went unabated for a year. Poor villagers were milked of the paltry incomes they possessed. While most villagers became thin as a rail and light as a feather, the depot manager was like a fattened cow and a monster in the way he lorded his authority over the villagers,” the report said.
The matter was reported to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), which failed to act, claiming there was no ‘substantive evidence’. However, under pressure from the public, the GMB management was forced to transfer the corrupt manager to a depot near Harare, “where his activities could be monitored”.
TI-Z said merely transferring corrupt officers to new stations would not solve the problem of rampant corruption in Zimbabwe.
“It would have been a more explicit message to other corrupt public officials if his actions had led to immediate dismissal. It is imperative to place more punitive measures against such corrupt officials so that it becomes known in the system that corruption will not be tolerated. Shuffling a corrupt official does not guarantee that he or she will not take the rot elsewhere with greater consequences,” TI-Z’s report said.
Under Robert Mugabe’s unbridled misrule, Zimbabwe has become one of the most corrupt states in the world, according to reputable surveys. State entities like GMB, staffed by mainly cronies of the president and his top officials are a hotbed of that corruption, which is hardly ever prosecuted.
© Now Media 2015. All Rights Reserved.