Written by Harriet Chigege.
The campaign spearheaded by protest singer Viomak in association with VOTO (Voices Of The Oppressed) to have Zimbabwe leaders declare their personal assets to curb corruption continues to gather momentum.On 26 August 2009, New Zimbabwe website published a report titled “Speaker – MPs must declare assets”. According to the report the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Lovemore Moyo said,
“Parliament is to draw up plans to force MPs, Ministers and Senators to declare their assets in a drive to tackle corruption by public officials.”
Of course mystery still surrounds VOTO’s petition and the Speaker’s proposal as Viomak has no information yet on how the Speaker came up with a similar proposal to have leaders declare their assets. She is however convinced that the Speaker was made aware of her proposal directly or indirectly, through James Maridadi who is handling the VOTO proposal or someone else or he came across it on the internet.
“Chances are the Speaker is responding to VOTO’s petition even though New Zimbabwe news website does not mention how the Speaker came up with an idea that is exactly like ours. The Speaker could not have just woken up and said it. It is an idea that has never crossed any known Zimbabwean politician’s mind and it is very likely that the Speaker is aware of the VOTO petition that we drafted in February. If it is one of those rare coincidences where speakers of parliament find themselves on the same side with political activists then that’s good for us. Our campaign is going to be extremely easy now since what we wanted to happen is what the speaker is doing now. Even though I am worried that the speaker could have stolen our idea to gain support without acknowledging that we petitioned for such kind of change we are still extremely proud and happy that our activism and determination has paid .This should be a lesson to other activists that they should not underestimate the power of the internet in their activism. Activists should not worry about large numbers too for change to happen. A handful of people can change the world” said Viomak.
The Speaker is going to see the VOTO petition as a motion to table. This will also force Zimbabwe leaders to declare their personal assets in case they resist the move. The protest singer who has been using the internet since 2005 to inspire and initiate change is well known for coining hard hitting songs that speak against bad governance in Zimbabwe. In 2008 she set up VOTO internet radio to protest against Robert Mugabe and broadcast protest work by banned Zimbabwe protest artists.
I wrote some articles concerning VOTO’s proposal to have Zimbabwe leaders declare their personal assets in which I stated that on 12 February 2009 (VOTO), an organization run by protest singer cum political activist Viomak, spearheaded a campaign that is seeking to have all MDC GNU leaders declare their personal assets in a bid to hold Zimbabwe leaders accountable as a way of monitoring corruption and achieving democracy. Since February the articles have been doing rounds on the internet.
In an interview with Radio VOP aired on Radio Netherlands Viomak reiterated that VOTO is demanding that leaders declare their assets so that they can be held accountable and monitor corruption. She went on to say that Zimbabweans failed to hold ZANU PF accountable and the time to learn from our mistakes is now.
Zimbabwe Kubatana network supported the cause by featuring the campaign in their edition of “60 Seconds Fresh” for the Inzwa (Listen) Audio Magazine .If you would like to listen to “60 Seconds Fresh” call 0913 444 321-8 and press 1 for “60 Seconds Fresh”.
The petition to have Zimbabwe leaders declare their assets written by Viomak and also running on her website since February under the title “Zimbabwe MDC (GNU) Leaders Declare Your Personal Assets”, tallies with what the Speaker of the House of Assembly said.
According to New Zimbabwe, Lovemore Moyo said the move was designed to ensure public officials “are accountable, since they are entrusted with public funds”.
He said: “The assets will be registered with Parliament and we are looking at implementing the exercise soon.
“We are still looking into the matter but the bottom line is that the Ministers, MPs and Senators must be responsible.”
Moyo was speaking at an African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption (APNAC) workshop held in Bulawayo.
Accepting that his plan could meet resistance, he vowed to “do whatever it takes to have the legislators register their assets”.
“I believe the formation of APNAC arose out of the realization that corruption can best be controlled by strengthening systems of accountability, transparency and increasing public participation in the governance of African countries.” He added.
“It is gratifying to note that the Zimbabwean chapter comprises MPs who have shown the political will to fight corruption. I am glad that we have Parliamentarians who have dedicated themselves to lead in the fight against corruption. It is not going to be an easy task.”He said.
He also said greater transparency would “restore credibility to our institutions and systems so as to create a peaceful and orderly society.”
After all this has been said Viomak is extremely pleased with the progress or the coincidence and she is finishing off compiling a list of the leaders to hand over to James Maridadi. She said she will soon get in touch with the Speaker and remain in touch with him to monitor and make sure that the Speaker adheres to what he said and she will also continue to do whatever she can to have the leaders declare their assets.
“VOTO sincerely thanks the Speaker for standing up to do the right thing. It is not going to be an easy task yes but with understanding leaders like him we will achieve our goals and help curb corruption in government”. She said.