Enacy Mapakame in Bulawayo
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) is engaging an international organisation to help track and recover assets illegally siphoned out of the country as it moves a gear up in the fight against corruption.
This initiative is under the asset recovery unit of the Commission, which is currently seized with 36 domestic applications for the forfeiture of assets worth about US$4,5 million.
The unit has been boosted by the establishment of the Unexplained Wealth Orders.
However, there are some assets hidden out of the country that should be recovered, prompting ZACC to engage an international organisation that will help investigating, tracing and the eventual recovery of such stolen assets.
This comes as there have been concerns that arrests alone on corrupt personalities are not enough as long as the assets are never recovered.
Although ZAAC Commissioner and spokesperson John Makamure could not give finer details of the international organisation and the terms and conditions of the agreement, he revealed this was one of the major initiatives being put in place to help the organisation fight corruption and being perpetrators to book.
“We need to recover assets hidden abroad, but as ZACC, we are not fully capacitated to investigate and trace them so we need to work with other organisations abroad.
“Now we are in agreement with an international organisation that specialises in asset recovery and we should be able to recover some assets from abroad acquired through corrupt means.
“Corruption has to be fiercely fought because of its devastating effects on the economy, it worsens public debt and there is a causal relationship between corruption and debt,” said Comm Makamure at the ongoing three-day Zimbabwe Annual Multi-Stakeholder Debt Conference in Bulawayo hosted by the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) in conjunction with Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD).
Comm Makamure added more efforts were being put in place to fight corruption in the country. For the first time in the fight against the scourge, the country has a National Anti-Corruption Strategy.
However, the Commission remains constrained in the discharge of its duties for instance the lack of prosecution powers.
This year alone the ZACC has submitted over 50 dockets to the national prosecuting office but the dockets are still in the system with little or no progress made.
“We have asked to be granted some persecution powers which is what is lacking right now for us to fully fight corruption.
“Whistle blowers are not willing to come forward with information for fear of victimisation and we need a law that protects whistle blowers,” he said.
Another recommendation was to have a time line to finalise corruption cases, say six months after the case is reported.
“It becomes a problem when people implicated in corruption cases are seen walking freely, there must be a set time to finalise such issues,” said Comm Makamure.
Corruption has been identified as one of the problem affecting the country, economic growth and eventually lead to debt after the misappropriation of funds through corruption.
Zimbabwe scored 24 points out of 100 on the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International.
The index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived.
A country’s score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of zero (highly corrupt) and 100 (very clean).