Justice Loyce Matanda Moyo
ON Wednesday December 9, 2020, Zimbabwe joined the entire world in commemorating the International Anti-Corruption Day. Having noted that corruption is among the greatest threats that the world is facing, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) on October 31, 2003. Following a resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly, December 9 was set aside as the International Anti-Corruption Day. This memorable day is dedicated to raising awareness on corruption and the role of the Convention in combating and preventing the scourge.
It is estimated that the world is losing a staggering US$$3,6 trillion to corruption. This is a sum of money that could have been channelled towards economic development and the betterment of livelihoods.
Corruption is a global phenomenon that is transnational in nature and can never be fought in isolation owing to the networks of the criminals involved. International co-operation is key to an effective anti-corruption drive. States are obligated to co-operate in fighting corruption as outlined in chapter IV of the UNCAC which calls for co-operation in terms of Mutual Legal Assistance, extradition, asset recovery, joint investigations and sharing of information, among others.
Zimbabwe attaches great value to the International Anti-Corruption Day, and believes a corrupt free world can only be achieved through combined efforts of states. As a nation in its economic recovery path, we give great emphasis to the total eradication of corruption so as to create an enabling environment conducive for attracting investments.
With the ushering in of the Second Republic, Zimbabwe has embarked on reform initiatives aimed at fighting corruption. His Excellency President Mnangagwa has pronounced a “Zero Tolerance” policy to all forms of corruption, emphasising the need to deal with corruption decisively.
As a result, Government has developed policies, plans of actions and programmes to boost the fight against corruption, including a robust asset recovery initiative. This is very essential if we are to achieve our Vision 2030 of an upper middle-income economy and the betterment of livelihoods for all.
Zimbabwe signed the UNCAC on February 20, 2004, and ratified it on March 28, 2007. Zimbabwe has continuously evaluated her progress in fighting corruption by participating in both the review mechanisms provided by the Convention. In 2011 and 2019, Zimbabwe participated in the first and second review cycles of the implementation of the UNCAC chapters II, III, IV and v on criminalisation, preventative measures, law enforcement and asset recovery, respectively.
I am pleased to note that since the first review cycle, Zimbabwe has made significant progress in addressing corruption through the adoption of several new pieces of legislation to ensure compliance with the provisions of UNCAC. Some of the notable achievements are outlined in this article.
Establishment of an independent anti-corruption agency
Article 6 of the UNCAC obliges all member states to ensure the existence of an independent body or bodies charged with preventing and combating corruption. These bodies must be fully capacitated. First and foremost, Zimbabwe has complied with article 6 of UNCAC through the establishment of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission through section 254 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment no. 20 Act 2013 and the Anti-Corruption Commission Act (Chap 9:22). Section 258 of the Constitution and the National Prosecuting Authority Act (2014) establishes an independent Prosecuting Authority.
In its 2021 National Budget, the Government allocated $317 million (up from $71 million in 2020) to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to amplify the fight against corruption. The Government has committed to funding ZACC’s Electronic Case Management System and purchase of office space for ZACC in all provinces in support of the devolution agenda.
Criminalisation of corruption
Zimbabwe has criminalised all acts of corruption in accordance with chapter III of the UNCAC. The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) is the Zimbabwean Code which criminalises corruption from section 170 to 174 and defines corruption as constituting the following:
Section 170: Bribery
Section 171: Corruptly using a false document
Section 172: Corruptly concealing a transaction from a principal
Corruptly concealing from a principal a personal interest in a transaction
Section 174: Criminal abuse of duty as a public officer
Zimbabwe was, however, encouraged to expand the definition of “agent” to include foreign public officials and officials in international organisations. The review noted that Zimbabwe has no offence covering trade in influence or influence peddling.
This is when a person uses connections in Government to obtain favour or preferential treatment for another person for a fee. The Commission drafted a lay bill of sector specific offences of corruption which has been forwarded to the Attorney General and this bill incorporates the above recommendation.
Zimbabwe has made significant progress in addressing corruption through the adoption of a comprehensive legal framework to combat corruption consistent with the UNCAC. The Legal framework includes the Constitution of Zimbabwe amendment No. 20 ACT 2013, the Anti- Corruption Commission Act Chapter 9:22, the Criminal Codification Law Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9:23, the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act of 2018, the Public Procurement, Disposal of Public Assets Act of 2017 and the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act (chap. 9:24).
National Anti-Corruption Strategy
The National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) was officially launched by His Excellency on July 11, 2020. It was developed through a highly consultative process and fully complies with the dictates of the Convention. NACS is already being implemented with six thematic committees, which are at technical level, having been established.
Inaugural meetings were conducted to adopt terms of references and develop work plans. The thematic committees report to a high level steering committee which I chair. The 33-member strong steering committee comprises representatives from key ministries and state institutions, the private sector, labour, churches and civil society organisations. Only the heads of private and public institutions sit on the steering committee to ensure decisions are implemented.
Public procurement and management of public finances
In line with article 9 of the UNCAC, Zimbabwe established the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe which is mandated to oversee procurement in the public sector and disposal of public assets. PRAZ makes sure that all public entities follow the prescribed tender procedures outlined in the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act.
The Government of Zimbabwe also established the Corporate Governance Unit which is housed under the Office of the President and Cabinet to make sure all public entities adhere to good corporate governance in as much as tender procedures and disposal of public assets are concerned.
Several arrests have been made of public officials who fail to adhere to the principles and procedures of procurement as outlined in the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act.
Measures to prevent
Apart from enacting a piece of legislation that inhibits money laundering, Zimbabwe went on further to establish the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and an Asset Management Unit which is currently housed under the RBZ. The establishment of the Financial Intelligence Unit is in line with article 14 of UNCAC which calls for the establishment of measures to prevent money laundering.
FIU is mandated to oversee transactions in financial institutions as a means of countering money laundering and counter financing of terrorism. The Companies and other Business Entities Act of 2019 criminalises the fraudulent, reckless or grossly negligent conduct of business, falsification of records and obligates companies to maintain and file beneficial ownership information.
The new Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Amendment Act (Chap 9:24) provides a civil and criminal forfeiture of proceeds of crime. The Amendment Act mandates the suspect to explain the source of his/her assets and failure to do so will lead to the assets being forfeited to the state.
Zimbabwe is making great strides to ensure that maximum co-operation is given to State Parties during requests for extradition processes and the return of stolen assets. The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission has signed Memoranda of Understanding with other anti-corruption agencies in line with chapter IV and article 43 of the UNCAC.
ZACC has signed MoUs with the Botswana Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, the Zambia Anti-Corruption Commission, and the International Centre for Asset Recovery. The MoUs include issues of extradition, mutual legal assistance, joint investigations, sharing of information and asset recovery among others.
Zimbabwe as a member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) and Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network for Southern Africa (ARINSA), is making steps to ensure that maximum co-operation is given to States Parties during requests for extradition processes and the return of stolen assets.
In line with the UNCAC which encourages co-operation among law enforcement agencies and stakeholders at national level, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission has established synergies with various key stakeholders in the fight against corruption. Several MoUs have been signed with stakeholders such as ZIMRA, Office of the Auditor General, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), and Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ), just to mention a few.
Co-operation of Government and the private sector
In line with article 12 of UNCAC, Government has put in place interactive platforms for the Government and private sector to fight corruption and financial indiscipline. ZACC has signed MoUs with some private sector organisations such as Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators in Zimbabwe and the Institute of Directors Zimbabwe on co-operation in preventing and combating corruption.
Article 32 and 33 of UNCAC obliges State Parties to protect witnesses and reporting persons through enactment of appropriate legislation.
ZACC therefore acknowledges the importance of the enactment of a Whistle-Blower and Witness Protection Act.
We are pleased that this matter is receiving urgent attention from the responsible authorities.
As a concluding message, I urge all Zimbabweans to Refuse, Resist and Reject all forms of corruption. Let us always remember that a corrupt free Zimbabwe begins with us.
Hon. Justice Loyce Matanda-Moyo is the Chairperson of Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission. ZACC Toll Free Lines: 08010101/08004367; Landline: + 263 242 369602/5/8. Whatsapp: +263 719529483; Whistle-blower reporting app: zacc.online/tipoffs; Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org