Billboard holding Zim government accountable is defaced

09 September 2021 - 16:33 By Sharon Mazingaizo
On social media the hashtag #HowFar has been trending. Stock photo.
On social media the hashtag #HowFar has been trending. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Ahmed Zaggoudi

A billboard holding the Zimbabwean government accountable for failing to fulfil its election promises and address corruption in state institutions has been defaced and vandalised.

The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) launched a public awareness campaign with the hashtag #HowFar saying the “campaign seeks to raise the public’s awareness on the lack of transparency and accountability by the Zimbabwean government on matters of public finance management”.

Billboards were put up in the capital Harare, but on Sunday morning one of them was  defaced.

In a series of tweets, Zimcodd said: “Today we woke to the sad realisation that one of the People’s Billboards along Chiremba Road has been defaced. The billboard carried the message #HOWFAR Corruption Scandals — NSSA, Drax, Zinara. This is an attack on accountability that we seek to promote in Zimbabwe. Don’t Burn. Respond.”

Zimcodd executive director Janet Zhou said “defacing the billboard was a direct attack on the quest for a culture of public accountability that our campaign seeks to entrench in Zimbabwe.

“The act brought to the fore the extent of intolerance and resistance to vertical accountability initiatives in a country where duty bearers are not prepared to account for their decisions and actions. This, however, won’t weigh us down. We will continue asking pertinent and uncomfortable questions until we witness prudency, transparency and accountability in the management of public resources at all levels.

“The defacing of the billboard gave us an indication that the campaign message reached the intended audience and we have to continue pressing for responses on these unsettling issues,” said Zhou.

Corruption scandals that rocked Zimbabwe include:

  • Drax International, a shadowy company that was illegally awarded a multimillion-dollar contract for Covid-19 medical supplies by the health ministry without a competitive tender process. All contracts have since been cancelled.
  • The National Social Security Authority (NSSA), where a forensic audit report detailed a series of corrupt activities at the state pension entity.
  • The Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara), where an external forensic audit uncovered corruption and tax evasion in which the government agency lost millions of dollars.

On social media, the hashtag #HowFar has been trending, a song has been composed titled How Far Riddim and Zimbabweans have been tweeting calls for transparency and accountability from the government.

Doug Coltart posted: “The fact this billboard asking #HowFar with the investigation of the Drax, NSSA and Zinara corruption scandals was attacked and burnt tells you everything you need to know about the guilt of those involved. They fear the truth coming out.”