HomeHeadlinesBribery cancer devours social fabric

Bribery cancer devours social fabric

BRIBE-SEEKING behaviour has increased in the public sector in the last three years with a number of Zimbabweans no longer having confidence in institutions that should be fighting corruption, a survey by Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) has revealed. According to the survey, the majority of the respondents, 76,7% stated that bribery as a form of corruption had increased in the past three years in Zimbabwe.

The survey report, which was released yesterday in Harare, noted that 10% of the participants felt that bribery as a form of corruption had not really increased.

TIZ executive director Tafadzwa Chikumbu said: “The rising levels of public sector corruption should worry everybody given the centrality of the public sector in guaranteeing citizens social, political and economic rights.

“Moreover, since the 2013 NBPI (National Bribes Payers Index), the country has launched a National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS), as well as creating various institutions to drive the implementation of that strategy since constitutional reforms implemented in 2013.

“Particularly concerning are the disproportionate impacts of corruption on specific segments in society. As a grassroots-led anti-corruption CSO, we are therefore primarily motivated to carry out such studies with a view to highlighting the impacts of corruption on the full enjoyment of human rights by the most vulnerable in society,” he added.

The NBPI study was conducted between April-July 2021. The report was national in scope, covering all provinces in the country and reaching out to 2 583 respondents from both rural and urban areas. Key findings from the study show that bribery in Zimbabwe is rampant and exists within most public institutions.

Among the respondents surveyed, 54,4 % indicated that they have been asked to pay a bribe within the last 12 months and the situation was further worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic restrictive measures which inhibited citizens’ access to goods and services.

“For most Zimbabweans, survival is closely linked to paying bribes (monetary and non-monetary) to public officials. Thus, most public officials directly or indirectly request bribes from service seeking citizens,” part of the report reads.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), the Registrar-General’s Office (RG), and Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) were ranked as the top three institutions with bribe-seeking tendencies, respectively.

“The major factors driving the demand for bribes by public sector officials were cited as weak and unaccountable institutions which have spawned a culture of impunity,” the report states.

“Respondents pointed out that most of the public sector institutions are severely incapacitated in the face of demand for public goods and services. This presents public officials with an opportunity to extort bribes from the public.”

Another key finding was the lack of public confidence expressed with current public sector anti-corruption efforts in Zimbabwe.

Of the surveyed respondents, 45,2% expressed lack of confidence in ongoing initiatives, such as the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS), and other supportive legislative frameworks that were introduced by the government. Additionally, there was a general lack of public confidence in most institutions pivotal to the fight against corruption. About 58,9% expressed lack of confidence with the ZRP, whilst 43,1% was with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc).

Throughout the study, respondents narrated their experiences with these institutions and how they failed to respond in a timely and efficient manner to cases which they reported.

In their view, the lack of professional etiquette, politically biased appointments and limited resources inhibit effective institutional response within Zacc, ZRP and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

Participants recommended the strengthening and proper funding of public sector institutions so that they can effectively meet the demand for goods and services from the citizens, thereby reducing the demand for bribes.

Participants also recommended the strengthening of Zacc and allied law enforcing agencies to effectively fight corruption.

In addition, they called for the de-politicisation of Zacc, the police and all other public sector institutions so that they serve the public fairly.

Member of Parliament for Norton, Temba Mliswa speaking at the launch of the report, called for the NPA to be independent when dealing with corruption cases.

“NPA is not independent; Zec (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) is not independent; there is no institution which is independent at all as long as it’s said you must consult the minister,” he said.

“The minister belongs to a certain party. He will never allow his party to be exposed and he knows it will lose power.

“You’re receiving instructions from politicians. Let me be very clear, we will never achieve these goals because there’s no political will,” Mliswa added.

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