via Corrupt judiciary causes concern – The Zimbabwean 22 October 2015
The recent arrest in Kwekwe of a local public prosecutor and prison officer by the Zimbabwe Republic Police, after a trap was set for them with the assistance of the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACTSA), is cause for concern.
It goes without saying that corruption is the root cause of the economic turmoil this country has experienced since independence in 1980. Remember the Sandura Commission and the Paweni scandal? Increasing corruption in the judiciary causes a whole new set of headaches for the country. The judiciary is one of the three arms of government that is supposed to provide checks and balances on the other two – the Executive and the Legislature. Its function is of paramount importance in any functional democracy.
However, if that function becomes questionable due to corruption, mismanagement and inefficiency, then the other two pillars of government are bound to also become inefficient and corrupt.
Who holds the Executive and the Legislature to account, when the Judiciary itself is compromised? When there were allegations of corruption in the Zimbabwean government soon after independence, a commission was set up, headed by Justice Sandura.
It was tasked with investigating allegations of corrupt dealings by members of government, involving the purchasing of cars at Willowvale Mazda Motor Company at concessionary prices, and the subsequent re-sale at inflated prices. The Willowgate Scandal.
What was most impressive about this investigation was that the judiciary managed to conduct their work diligently and impartially, thereby implicating very senior members of government in the scandal, who were subsequently expelled or resigned.
If my memory serves me right, these senior government figures were convicted by the judiciary, although they were later granted Presidential pardon.
However, the ever-growing reports of corruption within the judiciary makes it impossible to believe that this scenario could be repeated today. Could the judiciary we have today be competent enough to hold the Executive accountable? Unfortunately, I do not think so.
That means senior government officials can be as corrupt as they want to be, as they know that nothing will be done to them.
They can even enter into corrupt deals that are detrimental to the majority of the Zimbabwean populace with the private sector.
No wonder we hear of dubious deals concerning Community Share Ownership Trust that were allegedly entered into between government and certain companies and yet the communities have benefited nothing.
As long as there are no checks and balances amongst the three pillars of state, the country is all but doomed. Corruption in the judiciary also leads to a lawless society. If people realise that it is so easy to commit a crime and then just bribe some members of the judiciary so as to be acquitted and go scot-free, what then is to become of Zimbabwe?
We see in the media daily reports of lawlessness in countries like Mexico, where drug lords run cities and towns, in cahoots with a corrupt judiciary and senior government officials. Those cities and towns are full of killings and drug gangs running amok and unchecked.
This might seem unthinkable in a country like Zimbabwe, but then, 30 years ago, who would have thought that it was possible for Ziscosteel to close?
Already we are gangs in places like Zhombe, terrorising other villagers without being answerable because it is alleged that they pay the judiciary to have their cases thrown out.
Right here in Kwekwe, we have reports of certain ‘big fish’ openly boasting that they can do anything and nothing will be done to them because certain members of the judiciary are in their pay.
The poor are now at the mercy of the rich, as they (the poor) no longer have anywhere to turn to for justice. A country that has reached such proportions of injustice has no soul and is headed for disaster. This also leads to company closures, as corruption also leads to loses – resulting in more unemployment.
Furthermore, no foreign investor would want to invest in a high risk-country riddled with corruption, risking his/her millions, if not billions of dollars. There is urgent need for society to come together and seriously root out corruption in all its forms, but more so in the judiciary.
Today you might get away with a crime by paying a bribe, but tomorrow it will be you crying that someone who committed an offence against you got away scot-free because they paid a bribe. Corruption is destroying our country and all of us will suffer. – Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a communications consultant, journalist, writer and community activist. He writes in his own capacity. He welcomes your feedback. Please contact him on +263782283975 or email@example.com