BY BRIAN CHITEMBA
ONE of Zimbabwe’s many headaches is corruption. The country has been faring badly on the corruption index ranking hovering at an embarrassing 157 out of 180 countries, according to Transparency International. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has vowed to deal with corruption. He appointed fresh faces to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) led by High Court judge Justice Loyce Matanda-Moyo. Other anti-graft bodies include the Special Anti-Corruption Unit in the Office of the President and Cabinet (Sacu) headed by seasoned prosecutor and lawyer, Tabani Mpofu. The police also have a specialised anti-corruption unit.
But questions have been raised if these organisations are adequately dealing with corruption which has, for long, been problematic as public resources are squandered by an elite few while the masses suffer.
In this edition, we carry a story where Matanda-Moyo says her commission is targeting 180 dockets by the end of 2021. So far, 32 dockets have been forwarded to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to drag senior government, council and top police officials to court to answer corruption charges. Zacc wants 15 dockets every month, meaning the courts must be busy with corruption cases to win the anti-graft drive. The corruption busters swear that the days of catch-and-release are over as they are only taking to court solid dockets to ensure conviction. Time will tell if this will come to fruition. The anti-graft bodies are putting efforts to fight the deeply embedded corruption cancer. The battle cannot be won overnight as almost all essential institutions are rocked by corruption over many years dating back to the days of former president Robert Mugabe’s regime.
Fighting corruption is a complex feat. Not for the faint hearted. It calls for adequate resources to be channeled towards recruitment of well-paid forensic investigators, lawyers, accountants and auditors.
White collar crimes are not straightforward. Proper evidence has to be gathered if convictions are to be secured. Otherwise, it will just be another wild goose chase. It is pertinent for the government to allow Zacc to retain a certain percentage of forfeited properties so that the commission can fund operations to deal with corrupt individuals and cartels. Instead of chasing after corrupt officials after a crime has been committed, it is essential that the rot is nipped in the bud. This is why Zacc is raiding government departments, councils and ministries to do spot-checks and systems review to prevent corruption. The Auditor-General Mildred Chiri has repeatedly exposed government rot. The media has reported extensively on public and private sector corruption. It is time Chiri’s recommendations are implemented to plug financial leakages stalking the economy. An anti-corruption drive certainly requires vast resources — human and financial — to achieve the desired outcomes. Political will on the part of national leaders cannot be overlooked.
It’s time Zimbabwe regained integrity by viciously dealing with corruption.