via Politicsweb – The Zimbabwe we want (pt6): Corruption retards our development by Vince Musewe and Elton Mangoma 18 February 2014
Corruption is a mind-set; it is a value system that is exacerbated by sheer greed and lack of accountability. There are various levels of corruption from petty corruption, which is very easy to get used to and accept; to the high level corruption which is mainly hidden and misunderstood by many and in most cases, never exposed.
If we are o minimise corruption in Zimbabwe, we need to be strict on petty corruption and have very punitive measures so that we nip it in the bud. We will need to make fraud or theft not worth it and institute very stiff penalties while publicising it. When people know the high penalties they must pay, they will not be attracted to corruption. The costs or consequences to individuals involved in corruption and fraud must be much more than the benefits and the punishment must be applied consistently without fear or favour. Unfortunately our current politicians cannot lead this process.
In order to deal with the high level corruption, we will need an independent institution that deals with it. The Zimbabwe we want will have an economic intelligence and anti-corruption unit made up of professionals whose role is to investigate any suspected or reported corruption cases properly. This entity must be independent and operate outside all state institutions and especially not linked to the police. Supporting this must be an anti-corruption commission that is independent and made up of objective people who are beyond reproach and have no fear. This commission must be above politics.
In the Zimbabwe we want, a crack force on corruption will sit in the President’s office. The individuals involved must be well paid and incentivised to avoid bribes and cover ups. We cannot have people who are not well remunerated dealing with corruption as is the case now. It must be a highly rewarding job to attract professional people who deliver quality work and put national interests first.
Dealing with corruption benefits the country and makes it attractive for foreign investments. In a society where there is accountability corruption decreases and the rate of development improves, there is no doubt about that.
We believe that ethical and principled leadership is critical in effectively dealing with corruption. We need honest and competent leadership at all levels of public and private sector enterprises and institutions. In the Zimbabwe we want, the media will play the leading role in exposing corruption; this will also act as a deterrent.
It is evident to us that lack of competence contributes significantly to corruption. In government we must ensure that people are trained and skilled to do the jobs that they get paid for. We will also expect good governance especially the strengthening of the boards of directors in state enterprises. Our boards must be very competent to control management and they must act as a barrier to corruption.
Boards of directors are the gate keepers and we will expect a high level of professionalism. These boards must also be accountable in the case of corruption cases so that everyone is liable for allowing corruption under their watch.
Our external auditors must also have direct access to the anti-corruption commission where fraud has been suspected to avoid directors not acting on corruption.
The banking sector is a critical partner in the anti-corruption drive and we will have regulations that can red flag suspicious transactions. This is very important.
Everyone from the President’s office to the ordinary citizen must be accountable. Justice must not be selective and due process must take place where there are cases of fraud.
Our judiciary will also play a central role in stemming corruption and they must be accountable for the decision they make. This requires that politics does not interfere.
Our efforts will be to inculcate new value systems especially within state institutions. We must ensure that the recruitment of employees is done professionally, that performance reviews are done regularly and that people must do their work as expected. Government employees can spread corruption through their daily habits. They also must be remunerated fairly to avoid temptation.
Our tax authorities must be professional, informed and effective in doing their work. Our police must be well paid and looked after so that they are effective in their job. Working for the police must be made attractive and it must be satisfying and respected profession. The Zimbabwe we want will have well trained professional police that is apolitical and serves Zimbabwe first. Their activities must however be continually monitored
It takes two to tango, reducing corruption requires that we reduce the opportunity space for corruption in all spheres of life.
The Zimbabwe we want cannot emerge if the abuse of national resources that we are seeing now continues. Where justice is selectively applied and politicians can get away with corruption. The government has the responsibility to effectively manage the resources of the country.
We believe that the office of the President plays a central role in promoting anti-corruption. We must however make the President also liable and he or she must fall under the same law. Immunity of the President has been abused including accountability in how resources are spent. The President’s office must be audited to ensure that we have transparency at the highest level. There should be no half measures. In addition, the oversight of parliament over the affairs of the President must be strong and independent.
Lastly we will need a professional legal fraternity where objectivity and professionalism are paramount. Typically they regulate themselves through a peer review system and this needs to be encouraged and strengthened.
We must anticipate a totally new paradigm in the future, a paradigm that says that the people of the Zimbabwe come first and everyone is accountable.
The Zimbabwe we want is possible.
Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. Elton Mangoma is a Zimbabwean politician and entrepreneur. You may contact Vince directly on firstname.lastname@example.org