ZIMBABWE needs to take bold and punitive actions against perpetrators of corruption to deter the unethical practice, a top Harare forensic auditor has said.
At a Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) business ethics symposium held earlier this week, Proctor & Associates Forensic Accounting group senior partner Proctor Nyemba said taking action against graft offenders would not only discourage the practice but would motivate people to report cases of corruption.
“We don’t want paper evidence but real action. Corruption was mentioned by one party president last year at a congress and in the past few weeks President Robert Mugabe said he wants to fight corruption,” Nyemba said.
“How do we get whistleblowers to then come forward if no action is being taken?” he asked.
The CZI symposium comes as the media is awash with cases of corruption, particularly at public institutions and banks where depositors’ funds are abused, but with little action being taken.
Last month former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa made headlines for allegedly taking a US$6 million bribe in a botched diamond mining deal while another case saw executives at struggling national carrier Air Zimbabwe being accused of allegedly manipulating aviation insurance policies, prejudicing the national airline of millions of dollars.
At the business ethics symposium, Zimbabwe Leadership Forum (Zimlef) chairperson and top lawyer Canaan Dube said there was need to ensure individuals do not have excessive influence in the corporate world as a means of fighting corruption. He said there should be a balance between ownership, control of a company and leadership.
“If you own, manage and lead a company, there are no checks and balances, that’s why banks have been collapsing,” Dube said.
He said the new corporate governance code of conduct highlights the need to balance power and discourages executive chairmanship because too much power would be concentrated in an individual.
The country needs to strengthen institutions that fight crime, particularly the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), in order to combat the cancerous practice, Dube said.
“ACC is a creature of the old and new constitution but it’s a paper organisation and it will not deliver if it’s not resourced,” he said.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) and Registrar-General’s office have been at the centre of many of the corruption cases, the symposium heard.
Zimra commissioner-general Gershom Pasi said the revenue collector had devised means to fight corruption, including automation of its entire network.
“We have made sure that all duty and customs payments are done at the banks,” he said. “We are also dealing with corruption. If you read the papers last week you will have heard that one of five culprits hanged himself after we started arresting them.”
Last year, Pasi told a parliamentary budget and portfolio committee Zimra was weeding out rogue elements and firing culprits almost on a daily basis.
Pasi said there were a number of changes needed to effectively fight corruption to zero levels without elaborating further.
ZRP senior assistant commissioner Angeline Guvamombe said although the police force had limited resources they were committed to fighting corruption.