BY TATENDA CHITAGU
POLITICIANS have been snubbing public meetings organised by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), raising questions on their willingness to fight the scourge, a commissioner with the graft-busting organisation revealed on Monday.
According to Zacc commissioner Gabriel Chaibva, politicians from across the divide have been in no show at their meetings, despite being invited.
Chaibva made the remarks at a validation workshop on a draft national anti-corruption strategy held in Masvingo.
“We were in Chinhoyi and other parts of the country, I have observed that politicians do not attend such meetings. This is because some of them are the biggest culprits. Some are the most corrupt.
“If the politicians were here, from MPs, councillors, among others, we will go far, as the message will cascade down to their constituencies. Some are afraid they will get arrested here, that is why you do not see them,” Chaibva said.
He was responding to a presentation by Zacc consultant, Albert Makochekanwa, who said that there should be political will if the country is to effectively fight corruption.
“Let us be realistic, we will not totally eradicate corruption in Zimbabwe. Instead, we have to fight to reduce corruption in the country. It is now institutionalized and difficult to completely do away with in a short space of time,” Makochekanwa said.
“But there should be corresponding political will to fight corruption. If there is no political will, then we will not succeed. For example, there was a lot of corruption at numerous roadblocks during the old dispensation, but it only took a word of mouth to clear those roadblocks, some which were not procedurally mounted, and thus reducing corruption among roadblocks on the country’s roads.”
He added: “Politicians and those in authority, not just politicians, should do things right, not in a corrupt manner. These include chief executive officers, who should be accountable even to their juniors. It becomes a culture if they lead by example.”
Makochekanwa said Zacc employees also needed to be well remunerated so that they are not tempted to receive bribes from suspects they will be investigating.
“This fight against corruption cannot be done without financial assurance. Without money to fight corruption, nothing will move. I hope as Zacc, you have a comparative schedule of salaries in the region that you pay your staff, otherwise they will be susceptible to bribes by those they will be investigating. Of course, you may not offer the highest salaries and benefits in the region, but strive to offer competitive salaries. Before implementation, solve your in-house as Zacc,” he said.
At the meeting, politicians were conspicuous by their absence. Journalists and civil servants from several government line ministries topped the number of attendees.
Only former police assistant commissioner and leader of one of the sugarcane association in the Lowveld, Edmore Veterai, was among the few local leaders in attendance.