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Corruption dents COVID-19 alleviation programmes in Mutare

Tendai Nyamadzi


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According to Transparency International, the coronavirus pandemic is not only a health and economic crisis, but it is also a corruption crisis. The organization notes that persistent corruption is undermining the healthcare systems of many governments around the world and contributing to democratic backsliding amid the pandemic.

Countries around Africa have been particularly susceptible during this Covid-19 crisis reinforcing the low ranking of many on local and international corruption perception surveys.  Zimbabwe, for instance, was rated 157 out of 179 countries on this year’s Transparency International Corruption Index. Probably an unsurprising rating for a country which response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been fraught with allegations of corruption and vaccine shortages.

Locals say that the high-density suburbs of Sakubva and Chikanga are becoming COVID-19 hotspots in Mutare because of a heightened level of corruption allegations that residents accuse the Ministry of Local Government of. They accuse the local government ministry of colluding with corrupt council officials and land barons at the expense of the community.

But the corruption goes beyond the Ministry of Local Government. Officials within the Ministry of Health itself have been arrested and others investigated by the country’s anti-corruption commission, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) for various corruption allegations.

In March 2021, for example, the country’s chief epidemiologist, Portia Manangazira, was arrested for allegedly recruiting 28 relatives, including her father as community health workers in a nearly $USD 800,000 virus awareness programme funded by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). The programme had been set up for 800 community health workers, but it saw Manangazira’s family members draw monthly stipends amounting to USD$ 600 for a period of three months.