CSOs and government anti-corruption collaboration: Workshop exposes impediments in fighting corruption

By Byron Mutingwende

A plethora of impediments is standing in the way of efforts towards addressing rampant corruption eating into the core of the social, political and economic fabric of the Zimbabwean society.

The sentiments were expressed by stakeholders at the national anti-corruption stakeholder policy dialogue workshop organized by Transparency International Zimbabwe that was held at Crowne Plaza Monomotapa Hotel in Harare on Thursday, 14 April 2016.

Zimbabwe signed the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) on 20 February 2004 and ratified it on 08 April 2007 and it came into force on 7 April 2007.

UNCAC purpose is to promote and strengthen measures to prevent and combat corruption more efficiently and effectively; to promote, facilitate and support international cooperation and technical assistance in the prevention of and fight against corruption, including in        asset recovery and to promote integrity, accountability and proper management of public affairs and public property.

The chief law officer with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Chris Mutangadura, in his contribution on the analysis of the policy and institutional framework in dealing with corruption said the seriousness of the state in combating corruption reflects on 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. 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.

“I am of the view that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) needs to be given powers to investigate and arrest perpetrators of corruption through legislative reforms. There is need to set up a Special Economic Crimes Court as in Kenya and Namibia,” Mutangadura said.

One of the participants said the leadership should set the tone for zero tolerance against corruption as exemplified Xin Ping, the President of China who has a tough stance against corruption, adding that there was need to operationalise the national, regional and international instruments against corruption.

Advocate Theresa Mugadza called on all relevant anti-corruption stakeholders to emulate a strategy adopted on HIV/AIDS to fight corruption. She said that the effects of corruption are worse than those of the pandemic because where the vice thrives, the nation will 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 on sex and polygamy instead of whistle-blowing on corruption.” Mugadza said.

Mugadza said it was folly to continuously talk about ongoing corruption without arresting perpetrators implicated after thorough investigations. She said there was need to set up a national target of dealing with corruption.

Michael Mataure, the Executive Director of Parliamentary Affairs and Parliamentary Support Trust said “there is 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 emphasizes on the sense of identity,”

The Member of Parliament for Chitungwiza North who is also a member of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development, Godfrey Sithole said there was need for Parliament and ZACC to work together on fighting corruption. He urged ZACC to submit all reports on corruption to Parliament.

“ZACC should bring to Parliament all events on the ground pertaining to corruption. ZACC, police detectives on fraud should do periodic meetings on how to deal with corruption so that we walk together with one purpose,” Sithole said.

One of the participants said that there was need to publicise the functions of the various anti-corruption institutions and encourage citizens to use the agencies that fight corruption.

Mary-Jane Ncube, the executive director of Transparency International Zimbabwe hailed the establishment of the National Code of Corporate Governance for the private sector that has since been adopted by government and called for the implementation of its requirements.

“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.

In her recommendations, Ncube 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 organizations anda system of asset and income declarations applicable to high-level public officials.

Zimbabwe should consider corruption offences as serious offences to qualify as predicate crimes for money-laundering. There is need to enhance the fines specified in the Criminal Law to deter legal persons from engaging in corruption.

Transparency International Zimbabwe has said that it is important to implement recommendations of the UNCAC review mechanism including facilitating broad stakeholder participation and adopt the Transparency Pledge for the upcoming UNCAC review.

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. TIZ said it is incumbent to unify existing legislation by adoption of stand-alone acts on laundering of proceeds of crime as well as on protection of whistle-blowers.

It said there was need to build the capacity of the individuals and institutions tasked with curbing corruption, strengthen the operational effectiveness of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZAAC) in order to drive the mandate of the commission and translate the policy-level commitment (State of the Nation 10 point Plan, ZIMASSET) into programmable anti-corruption action plans through rolling-out an inclusive stakeholder consultation in the development of the national anti-corruption strategy with clear vision, objectives and measurable targets.

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