HomeHeadlinesSweeping changes drawn up in fight against corruption

Sweeping changes drawn up in fight against corruption

BRIAN CHITEMBA
AN inter-ministerial anti-corruption committee has made sweeping resolutions to combat corruption as non-complex cases must be finalised within six months, while complicated matters can only stretch for a year.

This emerged from a recent National Anti-Corruption Strategy Steering Committee (NACSSC) meeting which also agreed to review court processes to expedite the conclusion of corruption cases.

The government has received stinging criticism over the anti-graft fight as law enforcement agents and the judiciary system have been accused of playing a catch-and-release game with high-profile offenders.

Some high-profile cases, including former cabinet ministers, are still pending in court, two years after the initial arrest.

Even President Emmerson Mnangagwa has complained about the delays in the justice system to finalise corruption cases.

The NACSSC is composed of key ministries and government departments, including the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), Financial Intelligence Unit, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), Auditor-General, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), Transparency International Zimbabwe, and the Law Society of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe Revenue Authority

Other members of the committee are the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Office of the President and Cabinet, Bankers Association of Zimbabwe and Registrar of Deeds, Companies and Intellectual Property and the Central Vehicle Registry (CVR).

Zacc spokesperson John Makamure said the NACSSC was committed to ensure speedy finalisation of corruption-related matters in courts.

“The committee also resolved a review of court rules to give effect to these resolutions. The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is in the process of reviewing the rules and it is the expectation of key stakeholders, including the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption Zimbabwe Chapter, that the rules will accommodate these resolutions,” Makamure said. “Joint trainings have started covering the following areas; forensic examination; financial investigation; data analytics and extraction; exhibits management; evidence gathering; docket management and intelligence gathering.”

The NACCSC also agreed to strengthen the whistleblower legal framework, asset recovery and take some matters directly to the High Court.

Senior prosecutors from the NPA will be assigned to handle corruption matters.

The anti-corruption committee also implored permanent secretaries in ministries to co-operate with law enforcement agencies when they require statements.

Auditor-General Mildred Chiri has over the years repeatedly exposed corruption in government departments and ministries.

Auditor-General Mildred Chiri

Makamure told the Zimbabwe Independent that the NPA has actioned 19 applications before the High Court referred by Zacc, Zimra and the ZRP for the seizure of assets worth US$56,5 million as at June 14, 2022.

He said 15 active cases referred to the NPA required further investigation before they were filed in the High Court.

“Some of the challenges faced by the NACSSC include limited capacity for all law enforcement authorities and the NPA in executing investigations, international cooperation, drafting and finally referring matters to the High Court for litigation. Protracted process of the asset recovery investigations locally and internationally. Gaps in the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act to include Zacc and ZRP as enforcement authorities,” Makamure said. “Duplication of investigations by law enforcement agents is also a challenge and there is a need for joint investigation teams to make an impact.”

The NACSSC also resolved to establish more anti-corruption courts at all court levels; amend court rules to introduce a stipulated period by which corruption cases are dealt with thereby enabling prioritisation of corruption cases

“Zacc in particular, should be strengthened through sufficient resources to enable it to strengthen its investigation, prevention, educational and research capacity. Periodic review of public sector and private sector systems to ensure that they uphold the best standards of good corporate governance as the first line of defence against corruption,” he said. “Build and establish Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) to recover assets, evidence and the accused from abroad. This requires the building of working relationships and mutual understanding with foreign authorities through bilateral and multilateral agreements.”

The NACSSC agreed that political leaders should sign integrity pledges.

“President, ministers, MPs, political party leaders and key political figures to take lead in this endeavour,” reads the NACSSC resolutions, in part. “All political parties to spell out anti-corruption and accountability policies in their respective party manifestos. This should form one of the conditions, among others, for political funding from state coffers.  Have regulations (eg, Political Parties Act) which regulates, and increase transparency of party funding. Institutionalise a regular check and monitoring system.”

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