Zimbabwe: The “Impossible” Quest for Institutional Reforms

The Big Five

  1. The President
  2. The Parliament
  3. The Cabinet
  4. Reserve Bank Governor
  5. Supreme Court and High Court Judges
  • we need a reset event
  • we need a system overhaul
  • we need a reconfiguration
  • we need something more than a restart; we need to uninstall the operating system and install a new one
  • we need an Extinction Event of the Old System and a Creation Event of a New System

Next Five

These are as follows:

  1. ZEC
  2. ZIMRA
  3. CIO
  4. CBZ
  5. Deeds Office

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

Reforming ZEC is the cornerstone of ballot democracy. This is why the MDC is pushing for electoral reforms. Without electoral reforms, there is no guarantee that the country will have free and fair elections. Here is the tricky part, ZEC reforms are needed in order to vote out the Zanu PF junta government headed by Emmerson Mnangagwa. ZEC reforms begin with appointing untainted and impartial commissioners. ZEC commissioners are appointed by the President, who happens to be Emmerson Mnangagwa. Too much power rests in one person.

The circularity of Appointments and Elections

Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA)

This institution is rife with corruption. It is the primary tool for collecting taxes from the economy and distributing them to the central government. Leakages are prevalent in the institution because the taxation laws are ridiculous. They incentivize disobedience from the taxpayers.

  • The position of the Commissioner-General (CG)
  • The main Port of Entry — Beitbridge
  • Secondary Port of Entry — Robert Mugabe International Airport
  • The Head Office — Kurima House

There are very high chances that a righteous CG, a righteous Regional Manager, and morally upright Supervisors can get swallowed into the Beitbridge bribery syndicates. The chances of getting swallowed into the corrupt system are higher than the chances of changing the system.

The culture is exactly what needs to be fixed. How do we fix it? Do we fire everyone at Beitbridge Port of Entry and hire new people? The job/location rotations done at ZIMRA have shown us that new revenue officers are not the panacea as long as they are from the Zimbabwean societal fabric.

Dog drooling for food
  • taking a tough stance on corruption from the top (from CG trickling down)
  • improving the systems — making use of CCTVs, monitoring every action by revenue officers, frequently auditing the AYSCUDA online system, cross-validating the on-the-ground offline systems with the online system, cross-checking files, documents, etc. so as to identify and catch perpetrators early
  • achieving a higher conviction rate at the courts
  • stiffer penalties for taking bribes (in China they have a death penalty)
  • all these systems, processes, audits, arrests, adjudications, etc. have to be managed and implemented by people
  • people can be corrupted too, the people are waiting for their turn to eat
  • there are not enough people willing to sacrifice to make a better nation. It is difficult to forego potential personal gains for the benefit of all.

Central Intelligence Officer’s (CIOs)

If and when the country becomes free, what do we do with the CIOs? Do we disband them?

Winston Field (Prime Minister in 1960) formed the CIO and Robert Mugabe (Prime Minister in 1980) inherited it
  1. Journalists
  2. Lawyers
  3. Human Rights Activists
  4. Bloggers
  5. Videographers
  6. Opposition Party Politicians
  7. Doctors
  8. Student Union Representatives
  9. Teachers Union Leaders
  10. Pastors

Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ)

This is a surprise to many. To the uninitiated, it feels like CBZ should not be part of this list. We have mentioned the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on the Big Five. It is only right to mention CBZ in the next five.

  • CBZ is the primary buyer of Treasury Bills.
  • CBZ as the biggest bank has the largest ability to create money through the fractional reserve banking system. That ability needs to be parameterized so that it's not rigged in favor of a few kleptocrats.
  • CBZ holds the Treasury Account, that account needs to be distributed fairly across banks to strengthen the banking system. CBZ’s monopoly on public finances needs to be broken down.
  • CBZ is the primary originator of Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) from irresponsible lending to Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs). These loans to politicians are rarely paid back. Some are disposed to ZAMCO and some are perpetually rolled over when they mature.
  • CBZ CEO’s end up as RBZ governors, it doesn’t necessarily have to be so
Commercial Banking as a central institution

Deeds Registry Office

There are millions of property owners that do not have title deeds. There are too many stories of two or more people holding title deeds for the same piece of land.

The Other Five

  1. Passport Office
  2. National Social Security Authority (NSSA)
  3. Vehicle Inspectorate Department (VID)
  4. Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA)
  5. Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA)


The quest for Institutional Reforms in Zimbabwe is an uphill task. It’s not going to be easy. When people demand change, they are essentially asking for institutional reforms.

  • military (soldiers)
  • healthcare (doctors and nurses),
  • education (teachers)
  • and law enforcement (police)



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Ryan Gosha

Ryan Gosha

Financial Analyst, Cloud Accountant, Citizen Data Scientist, FPL Boss