Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa didn’t know the extent of corruption in the country until he took up the highest office in the land.
Speaking in a televised interview aired by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) on the eve of the country’s Independence Day celebrations on April 18, he conceded that his anti-graft fight has not been successful.
"Corruption is deep rooted. I thought by making a pronouncement that ‘let us fight corruption’ it will go away. No. It’s not like that. To fight corruption, you need the police to investigate but there are elements of corruption in the police.
"Once you get past the corruption in the police, the National Prosecution Authority has to prosecute, but there are also elements of corruption in the NPA.
"Then the case must go to court and there are also elements that are corrupt in the judiciary. So the fight is so wide and deep," he said.
Zimbabwe ranked 160th out of 175 countries according to the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International.
Mnangagwa expressed frustration at the "slow" pace courts were dealing with corruption cases.
In his first few months after dethroning Mugabe in November 2017, Mnangagwa released a list of people and companies that allegedly externalised US$827m. However, the list was criticised for allegedly leaving out the "big fish" involved in corruption.
To date, no one has been successfully prosecuted.
Meanwhile, Independence Day was gloom for many. Against the backdrop of price increases for basic commodities, long winding queues of fuel marked the day for some.
"The ultimate obligation to turn around our fortunes lies with us using our natural, God-given abilities," Mnangagwa’s voice boomed from the radio as Cornelius Dewa listened from his car.
He had been queuing for the three hours at a service station.
Like many people, Dewa kept checking the parallel market rates of foreign currency.
"Life is getting tougher by the day. It has not yet reached the 2008 levels but we are really feeling the pinch of price increases," he said.
But in his televised interview, Mnangagwa insisted that price increases were unnecessary.
"With regard to the issue of prices, I made an appeal a few days ago to our compatriots in industry and commerce that prices are coming up but there is no justification in many areas why they are coming up," he said.
He also warned business to stop "wantonly" increasing prices, saying that government would be forced to put in place price controls, something he did not personally believe in.