By Byron Mutingwende
Stakeholders in the justice delivery sector have taken a giant step in eradicating corruption through engaging the public to discuss strategies and milestones in fighting the vice.
Speaking at the launch of a public campaign dubbed “Against Corruption Together (ACT)” at Harare Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the event marked the dawn of a new era in fighting corruption which was negatively impacting political, social and economic development.
Mnangagwa lamented the fact that Zimbabwe was losing a lot in potential revenue due to corruption and emphasized that the judiciary plays an important role in curbing the malady.
The VP said national stability was hinged on effective and strong institutions that thrived on transparency and accountability. In the same vein, he said that the “easy of doing business” strategy being pursued by the government and other stakeholders could only bear fruits if corruption was completely eradicated.
Players in the justice delivery system including prosecutors, the police, lawyers, prison and correctional officers and messengers of court were urged to shun corruption in the execution of their duties.
As strategies to minimize corruption in the justice delivery system, the government promulgated the Judicial Services Commission, Attorney-General and Prosecutor-General’s offices, emphasized upholding of the independence of the judiciary (a compromised judiciary is detrimental to the security of a nation) and established the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission among others.
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said there was need for the police to improve their methods of detecting corruption.
“The public should have on their minds a certainty for detection of corruption. The public should report any attempts to solicit for bribes by members of the justice delivery system. If resources permitted, it was necessary to put more than one judicial officers at the courts to minimize cases of corruption and everyone is entitled to fair trial,” Chidyausiku said.
In a speech read on his behalf by Commissioner Solomon Mubatapasango, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri said corruption paralyses development, inhibits the public from accessing equitable delivery of justice. He said that Section 219 (1) of the the constitution of Zimbabwe urges the urges the police to uphold the supreme law and enforce it without fear or favour and uphold commitment, accountability, transparency and integrity.
He said the Zimbabwe Republic Police has re-modelled a people-oriented service charter, erected electrified anti-corruption banners countrywide to raise awareness against corruption and conscientise the public on hotline numbers.
“We have put anti-corruption teams at all our police stations, re-invigorated the Police Internal Security and Intelligence (PISI) and opened a complains desk at Police General Headquarters.
Transparency International Zimbabwe (TI Z) commends the government stakeholders in the administration of justice for launching the Against Corruption Together (ACT) campaign.
“We encourage, the government to match the campaign with political willingness to ensure enforcement of justice as a key pillar of an effective strategy to combat corruption. TI Z believes the campaign should be followed by a baseline study to assess the levels and forms of corruption in the justice delivery system. It is only when we have credible facts about the nature, forms and scope that we can respond with appropriate and effective strategies. This should inform a review of sector policies with an anti-corruption lense as part of a broader framework for the development and implementation of national anti-corruption strategy. TI Z further calls for strengthening of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) as part of the institutions established under the Constitution to combat corruption,” TIZ said in a statement.
TI Z said the launch of the ACT campaign was timely as it coincided with the global effort to address corruption through the Suistanable Development Goal 16 on promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies and Goal 16.5 in particular on substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms.
“The success of this campaign lies in its capacity to empower citizens who are principals in the anti corruption value chain to demand for transparency and accountability their leaders the agents. TI Zimbabwe perceives transparency as the flow of timely and reliable crucial information, which is accessible to all relevant stakeholders. This perspective emphasizes not only the availability of information, but also its reliability and accessibility to a range of potential agents. Accountability on the other hand as perceived by TI Zimbabwe, can either be vertical in that it is demanded from below by citizens or horizontal in that, institutions of the state check abuses by other public agencies and branches of government and impose a requirement to report sideways.
“In this context accountability has a two dimension definition comprising of answerability and enforcement. Answerability refers to the obligation by governments to provide information on what they are doing, while enforcement refers to the capacity of a principal either an individual citizen or a collective focus such as mass media or civil society to impose sanctions on power holders who have violated their public duties (Schedler, 2009). This two-dimension definition of accountability implies forcing power holders to justify their decisions and actions and obliging them to exercise power in transparent ways (answerability) and subjecting power holders to the threat of sanctions (enforcement).”
TI Z emphasized its committment to support local effort to fight corruption as well as the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, which Zimbabwe is signing member to. It said such efforts can help reduce corruption and improve Zimbabwe’s Corruption Perception score which has remained at 21 since 2013 and indicating higher levels of corruption in the public sector.