By Byron Mutingwende
HARARE – The Embassy of Sweden has partnered Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) in an effort to capacitate state institutions like Parliament to rid society of the scourge of corruption that has become a huge problem in the country.
Speaking during the signing ceremony of the commissioning of a US$2 million three-year grantby the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) to TIZ at Cresta Lodge in the capital Thursday, Swedish Embassy deputy head of mission to Zimbabwe, Maria Selin said the support would go a long way in tackling corruption.
“Corruption is a global phenomenon, affecting both developed and developing countries, Sweden included. But in Zimbabwe it constitutes a fundamental problem that needs to be tackled on all fronts.
“Always prevent, never accept, always inform, always act sums up SIDA’s attitude towards corruption. We are serious about fighting corruption – and our support TIZ now shows that,” Selin said.
The grant would be channeled towards TIZ’s work in the areas of research, awareness raising, advocacy, legislative reforms, capacity building, capacity building and strategic partnerships among others.
Accepting the grant, TIZ board chairperson Loughty Dube said the event marked the continuity of a strong relationship between the two institutions that dates back to 2009.
“I take pride in the fact that TIZ’s strong relationship with the Swedish Embassy has been highlighted by key development results highlighted in the SIDA commissioned Evaluation Report of 2014 and the new grant which we are here to witness its signing.
“SIDA has made it clear to us that they fund results and TIZ is ever committed to bring about key results to the anti-corruption value chain. Certainly one of the key results of this strong partnership between TIZ and SIDA is the capacitation of strong institutions such as Parliament,” Dube said.
He said Parliament has the constitutional mandate to oversee government and hold it accountable for its actions and decisions as it also plays a key role in promoting horizontal accountability amplifying the voices of citizens – through such mechanisms as constituency outreach, public hearings, and parliamentary commissions.
It was noted that when Parliamentarians represent their constituencies in the fight against corruption, the state’s commitment and willingness to fight corruption by promoting the domestication of regional and international conventions would be strengthened.
Selin said the poor and vulnerable citizens are the ones who bear the worst brunt of corruption by failing to access basic services like education, health, water, accommodation and food. She said regardless of whoever perpetuates corruption, everyone would eventually pay the price hence the need for eradicating it in all facets of life.
The diplomat urged the government to strive to meet its national and international anti-corruption commitments under various treaties and craft enabling legislation as well as supporting a fully-fledged and well-resourced anti-corruption commission.
TIZ legal officer Themba Mahleka weighed in by saying that there was need for the capacitation of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) so that it would effectively execute its mandate and called for the alignment of the existing legislation to the new constitution. He added that there was need for the civil society organisations to play the roles of convener, mobilizer, whistle-blower, capacity-builder and advocate in the fight against corruption.
Chairperson of the African Parliamentary Network Against Corruption (APNAC), Willias Madzimure said there was need to harmonise the fragmented laws dealing with corruption in order to effectively curtail the spread of the scourge in the country and on the continent.
Economic governance policy advisor for the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD), Tafadzwa Chikumbu said there was need to address illicit financial flows – a form of corruption, by Zimbabwe and many other African governments in order for them to improve their domestic resource mobilization efforts.
He added that such illicit flows derive from proceeds of tax evasion and laundered commercial transactions; proceeds of criminal activities; andproceeds of theft of public resources, bribery and other forms of corruption.