My close encounter with corruption


By Trevor Ncube

Our gruelling negotiations had ended and l was taking my knackered self- upstairs to my office. John Kunyara (not real name) followed me and whispered that l could get the fee discount l had requested if l was comfortable doing a side deal with him and his colleague. The colleague had been consulted and agreed.

And this is how the deal would work. John & Co would ditch their employer and use their private company to do the transaction. They have a company for doing these kinds of deals, l was informed. This transaction would now not involve their current employer. The proposed agreement on the employer’s letterhead would be discarded.

I apparently had opened a door to this brazen suggestion by driving a hard bargain and asking for a discount in the transaction fees. My request could be accommodated through a heist of their employer.

For a moment, my mind was not able to process what was being asked of me. I remember vividly the violent response in my whole body which was a loud: “You will not get involved in this.”

When some calmness returned, my mind walked away from my soul and self- righteousness and strongly put it to me that we were currently financially embarrassed and US$30k to US$40k would plug a few holes.

The violent reaction in me was my conscience wrestling against the reality of our financial circumstances which my mind was seized with.

The inner turmoil persisted all the way home. As the temptation to grab the deal and run lingered, l soon realised that I was not afraid of the police or the law.

I was convinced that the police and the law would never get to know about our dirty deal. After all, thieves are supposed to stick together.

I found myself more concerned about how l would live with myself after participating in this. My wife, she who must be loved, feared, respected and obeyed, was very clear: This dirty deal was to be dismissed with the contempt it deserved.

“We don’t do this kind of thing,” she firmly reminded me.

With my conscience having found a companion in my wife, I was emboldened to walk away from the dirty deal.

l then asked John for a meeting at home the following weekend. We sat under one of our huge Jacaranda trees with my dogs behaving as if they wanted in on the conversation.

John appeared remorseful and wanted to know why l was different from everyone else out there who would have jumped at this opportunity to pocket a +US$30k windfall without even blinking. He said he had never, ever heard or met someone who had done what I had.

After a lengthy conversation, l asked him what explained his professional success this far and he said it was the brand and reputation of the company that he had worked for, for years.

I pointed out that what he was asking me to do would take away business from this same company. I used my return to normalcy after the brief seduction of extra cash as a teaching moment for both of us.

Arriving at this level of clarity, to say no to the indecent proposal, was intentional and not a knee-jerk reaction.

It was centred on who l have become over years of getting to know who l am and strengthening the values and principles l live by.

But knowing yourself does not mean you don’t get tempted. It means you are better equipped to deal with temptation.

When I had come to my senses, I realised that saying yes to the deal would mean that I would be compromised in the minds of all those party to the deal.

I would join the unscrupulous who are becoming role models in our country. I would be partly owned and beholden to the people who were party to this deal.

I am told that in these tough economic times, this is the form of corruption that is rampant in the private sector.

People add a certain amount to the invoice to be split between service or product provider and the insider. Willingness to participate in this corruption, not quality of products or services, determines who gets the business.

This might partly explain the high costs of doing business in this economy and price variations.

A senior executive was recently asked to resign or face being fired after it was found these deals were a source of his lavish lifestyle.

People find all sorts of reasons to justify why they participate in corruption.

Poor or delayed salaries and poverty are the common scapegoat. Greed seems to be the main cause of corruption.

In many instances, participating in corruption has become second nature such as bribing the police and government officials.

My experience shows the law will not stop corruption.

It is that personal reformation that l often write about that will stop corruption. It is our values and conviction that will cause the violent turmoil within when tempted by corruption.

All leaders must behave and speak in an exemplary manner when it comes to corruption for us to stop this scourge.

I hope my stance, though tentatively adopted, changed John & Co. As for me, I prayed and asked for forgiveness. I repented and moved on. Lesson learnt, there will be no next time.

Trevor Ncube is Chairman of Alpha Media Holdings and host of In Conversation With Trevor. This is an excerpt from the weekly Newsletter . Please subscribe for thought provoking fresh insights.

In Conversation With Trevor

In Conversation with Tapera Chikandiwa


A lesson of planting tomatoes from his mother set Tapera Chikandiwa, Founder of High Achievers Coach Educational Center, towards his entrepreneurial journey. Tapera is passionate about education and in this episode shares his inspirational journey of building a school of excellence in Harare. Tapera is passionate about education and in this episode shares his inspirational journey of building a school of excellence in Harare. Watch his episode

Audience Responses

From Tapera Chikandiwa episode, our community had this to say:

Great mentor to me Dr. Chakandiwa. Much respect to this man! Very bold, unconvectional and a man of God. I’m glad to have interacted with him and moulding me as a student at St. Faith’s
Thank you Trevor for bringing Dr Chik our talkative farmer on the platform
I was so fortunate to meet Mr Chikandiwa when I did. Beyond the excellent academic experience I had at HAC, I also received extremely valuable life lessons. Thank you Coach TC! Words can never express the positive impact you’ve had in my life.
Thank you for the flood of comments. I am truly humbled. My hope is that this m succees story of a village boy will make the giants in many common village people to rise up and discover their worth.
Proud about him. I was in his final class at St Faith. He left a legacy in our minds. Legend!

Coming Next: In Conversation with Phibion Gwatidzo


Don’t miss the next episode with the Chairman for Baker Tilly Central Africa Phibion Gwatidzo In Conversation
with Trevor.

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in conversation with trevorZimbabwean entrepreneur and newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube
sits down with various high-profile guests in a series of
candid, conversations that seeks to go beyond the headlines and
beyond the sensational.

Book of the Week

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King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

by Adam Hochschild

Order yours on Amazon

Recommended Reading:

The Secret</em >
by Rhonda Byrne

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