VARIOUS impediments still stand in the way of efforts to address rampant corruption eating into the core of the social, political and economic fabric of the Zimbabwean society, stakeholders have said.
By Byron Mutingwende
Stakeholders attendeding a national anti-corruption policy dialogue organised by Transparency International Zimbabwe in Harare on Thursday, said the United Nations Convention against Corruption — which the country signed in 2004 before ratifying in 2007 — was being violated.
Chief law officer in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Chris Mutangadura, said the seriousness of the State in combating corruption was reflected in the National Budget.
“The NPA received just over $200 000 from Treasury in the 2016 National Budget. Corruption is a big issue perpetrated by people with money and political power,” he said.
“Look at people who are funding soccer for example. Prosecutors and magistrates are lawyers, but they get pathetic salaries. They have to do the national duty of investigating corruption issues like the Salarygate and Asiagate scandals, which require financial resources to be done thoroughly and comprehensively.”
Mutangadura was of the view that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) be given powers to investigate and arrest perpetrators of corruption through legislative reforms.
“There is need to set up a Special Economic Crimes Court, such as in Kenya and Namibia,” he said.
One of the participants said the political leadership should set the tone for zero tolerance of corruption, as exemplified by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has a tough stance against graft, even among the elite.
Prominent lawyer, Theresa Mugadza, called on all relevant stakeholders to emulate a strategy adopted on HIV and Aids to fight corruption.
She said the effects of corruption were worse than those of the pandemic because where the vice thrived, the nation would not have the capacity to feed its people and deal with drought and there were will be a shortage of essential drugs in clinics and hospitals.
“It’s sad to note that people are fast to go to tabloids to report petty issues about sex and polygamy, instead of whistle-blowing on corruption,” Mugadza said.
She said it was folly to continuously talk about corruption without arresting perpetrators implicated after thorough investigations, adding there was need to set up a national target of dealing with corruption.
Michael Mataure, the Parliamentary Affairs and Parliamentary Support Trust executive director, said there was need to condemn corruption from an early age, even among primary school children.
“Fighting corruption should be a part of us and I am glad the Ministry of Education is rolling out a new curriculum that also emphasises on the sense of identity,” he said.
Chitungwiza North legislator and member of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development, Godfrey Sithole, said there was need for the legislature and Zacc to work together in fighting corruption.
He urged the anti-corruption body to submit all reports on corruption to Parliament.
“Zacc should bring to Parliament all events on the ground pertaining to corruption. Zacc and police detectives on fraud should hold periodic meetings on how to deal with corruption so that we walk together with one purpose,” Sithole said.
Another participant said there was need to publicise the functions of the various anti-corruption institutions and encourage citizens to use the agencies that fight graft.
Mary-Jane Ncube, the executive director of TI-Z, hailed the establishment of a national code of corporate governance for the private sector, which has since been adopted by the government.
She called for the full implementation of the code.
“Zimbabwe should consolidate all corruption-related legislative matters in one law to create a comprehensive legal framework and examine ways to enhance coordination among the different institutions,” Ncube said.
The TI-Z boss called for the establishment of legislative and related measures that cover persons performing unpaid services or functions for the State or a public enterprise, bribery (active and passive) of foreign public officials and officials of public international organisations and a system of asset and income declarations applicable to high-level public officials.
She said Zimbabwe should consider corruption offences as serious enough to qualify as predicate crimes for money-laundering.
There was need to enhance the fines specified in the Criminal Law to deter legal persons from engaging in corruption, Ncube said.
The anti-corruption watchdog called for the adoption of provisions on criminalisation of foreign bribery and improvement of legislation on protection of witnesses, experts and victims and on liability of legal persons.
TI-Z said it was incumbent upon the country to consolidate existing legislation by adoption of stand-alone acts on laundering of proceeds of crime as well as on protection of whistle-blowers.
Corruption is currently endemic in Zimbabwe and little or nothing has been done to arrest perpetrators, amid recent revelations by President Robert Mugabe that $15 billion in diamond revenue was missing.