In the midst of a deepening crisis, Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 pandemic has shed a harsh light on the nation’s pre-existing woes, amplifying political and economic turmoil. Regrettably, the government’s response has been a crackdown on critics, leaving the root issues unaddressed.

For many years, Zimbabwe has grappled with state repression fueled by a toxic blend of neoliberal policies and structural adjustment programs. This prolonged struggle created the perfect breeding ground for today’s dire humanitarian and economic crises. Corruption has become synonymous with the ruling ZANU-PF regime, which sees state coffers as their personal treasury. The COVID-19 outbreak has only exacerbated an already failing system, pushing Zimbabwe further into a political and economic abyss.

Amidst this chaos, opportunists have thrived, exploiting state contracts arising from the pandemic. Cronyism and embezzlement of public resources have run rampant. Some opposition leaders who dared to expose COVID-19-related corruption found themselves ensnared in the labyrinth of the politicized justice system, facing allegations of inciting public violence. Independent journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, for instance, faced imprisonment for his bold critique of government officials’ corrupt practices. His fearless condemnation of the cartels, elite, and the entire ZANU-PF political machinery has turned his right to free speech into an endangered privilege.

The deeply rooted corruption within Zimbabwe’s ruling elite has intensified the economic crisis, pushing the majority of citizens into poverty. The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, which was supposed to combat this menace, has instead been accused of favoring ZANU-PF elites in its board appointments. This raises doubts about its commitment to ensuring zero tolerance for corruption and delivering the benefits of liberalization and democracy to ordinary citizens.

Former Health Minister Obadiah Moyo’s case exemplifies the impunity enjoyed by political elites. Moyo faced criminal abuse of office charges over a $60 million contract awarded to a company allegedly selling supplies to the government at inflated prices. While he remains out on bail and is set to appear in court, such cases often mysteriously vanish from the judicial chambers, echoing George Orwell’s assertion that “some animals are more equal than others.” The compromised justice system appears manipulated by political agendas.

The economic turmoil has eroded the notion of loyalty as a virtue among law enforcement agents. Public service, intended to improve workers’ living standards, has deteriorated them financially, emotionally, and in societal perception. Education has lost its value, illegal hustles have proliferated, and the desperate public service agents have often found themselves involved in corruption to make ends meet.

The controversial reinstatement of Henrietta Rushwaya as Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) President after a gold smuggling scandal further raises questions about accountability. The investigation into her alleged attempt to smuggle 6 kilograms of purified gold to the United Arab Emirates is ongoing, but her reinstatement suggests she may evade legal consequences.

Zimbabwe’s politics must shed its barbaric tendencies that infringe upon human rights. Politics wields immense influence over the economy and societal well-being. Yet, Zimbabwe’s elections have consistently fallen short of the standards of fairness and freedom. The case of Prisca Mupfumira, accused of misappropriating $95 million USD from the national pension fund, underscores the lack of credible commitment among leaders in public office.

As Zimbabwe battles its multifaceted crises, addressing corruption and political reform must become paramount. The nation’s future depends on a genuine commitment to democracy, transparency, and justice for all its citizens.

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