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Cuthbert Dube and the battle against greed

Cuthbert Dube broke no law when he took money from poor members of the Public Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) and paid himself millions.

That is the verdict of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), according to reports this week. And, angry as that made many, ZACC is right.

No amount of moral outrage can stop Zimbabwe’s deep-seated culture of corporate greed.

The lesson from the PSMAS saga is that outrage is nothing unless backed up by regulation and action.

Dube was on a $236 000 monthly salary.

He also had awarded himself close to a million dollars in loans, a house on the exclusive Follyjon Crescent in Harare, and a raft of other rich pickings.

ZACC was asked to probe Dube, and this week came the verdict; Dube had done nothing illegal.

Despite the uproar Dube’s salary had caused, ZACC’s finding were inevitable.

Dube’s big pay may have been immoral, but it was not illegal.

 He had been allowed to be greedy.

And that is just the problem; there is massive corporate greed around, but Zimbabwe’s governance structures are too weak and compromised to deal with it.

Putting Dube’s salary into context helps to see just how much greed he was allowed to get away with.

When Dube was at PSMAS, his monthly salary, before perks, put him among the top four highest earning CEOs in South Africa.

He was beating the CEO of SABMiller, the world’s second biggest brewer, into fifth place.

At the time, he was just $100 000 short of the basic salary of Whitey Basson, CEO of Shoprite, Africa’s biggest retailer.

He was earning more than the head of Anglo American.

Around the same time Dube was at PSMAS, Wall Street salaries were averaging $404 800, according to  the New York State Comptroller.

Dube wasn’t too far off the wolves of Wall Street.

And this was all before we added Dube’s perks, which took his monthly earnings to just over $500 000, or a staggering $6 million per year.

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