Fighting corruption is dangerous, but necessary exercise

Corruption has become part of everyday life and people have normalised receiving and paying of bribes as a way of doing business.

Zimbabwe continues to perform dismally on the global Transparency International's anti-corruption perception index, which shows the need to do more in order to eradicate corruption in the public sector.

On this global rating , Zimbabwe scored 24/100 against the regional average of 33/100.

Though the index focuses on public sector corruption, it is important to note that corruption is not only rampant in the public sector but the private sector as well.

The impact of corruption hits hard on the poor and marginalised groups including women and people living with disabilities.

It worsens poverty and perpetuates inequalities, thereby increasing the gap between the rich and the poor.

 Corruption has become part of everyday life and people have normalised receiving and paying of bribes as a way of doing business.

 The way corruption is rooted in all sectors of the society reveals the need for a holistic approach to win the fight.

In Zimbabwe people who are involved in grand corruption are usually the politically exposed persons who are also powerful.

 Dealing with such type of corrupt people is not only risky but dangerous because they benefit from corruption and have the power to retaliate.

Corruption is closely linked to organised crime because the networks use sophisticated networks to cover up their corrupt deeds.

Use of technology has enabled corrupt officials and organised criminal networks to easily escape without paying for their actions.

Lack of adequate resourcing of the institutions mandated to fight corruption and crime is an issue, which has to be addressed so that these institutions can executive their mandate effectively.

Use of technology by corrupt officials means the need for training of anti-corruption officers and investigators to equally equip them with the modern technology.

Active participation of citizens in the fight against corruption is essential as they have to monitor accessibility of public services as well as availability of the same.

Poor access to public services like health care, education and water and sanitation is closely linked to corruption.

For example, unavailability of essential medicine in public health institutions can be an indicator of diversion of resources or misplaced priorities.

Fighting corruption is a mammoth task. However, when citizens participate in monitoring the availability of services in their respective communities and engage with their duty bearers, it can result to transparency and accountability in resource and service distribution.

For citizens to actively participate in fighting corruption there is need for protection by the law.

The absence of a comprehensive whistleblower protection and witness protection legislation in Zimbabwe remains a huge challenge which hinders citizens to actively participate in reporting corruption.

Most people have expressed their willingness to report corruption but due to the absence of a comprehensive whistleblower and witness protection legislation, it remains difficult.

People are afraid to lose their jobs if they report their corrupt seniors at work.

 Some are afraid even to lose their lives.

Whistleblowers need safe platforms to report and a piece of legislation has to be enacted to give confidence to reporting persons.

Some significant efforts, which were done in Zimbabwe regarding anti-corruption efforts is to enact Freedom of Information Act a law which can be used by citizens to request information of public interest from public entities.

This piece of legislation was tailor made to promote transparency and accountability in Zimbabwe.

 However, some citizens are not aware of this law hence they don't utilise it.

The establishment of Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and anti-corruption courts is also regarded as an expression of commitment in the fight against corruption.

However, the debate continues when the institutions are not adequately resourced.

The mining industry is one of the sectors, which is marred with corruption.

Most mining host communities are living in poverty while minerals are being extracted from their communities.

There's need to implement policies that enable mining host communities to benefit from the minerals being extracted.

In addition, fighting corruption in the extractive industries should be prioritized for the benefit of the nation at large.

Lastly, the independents of public institutions mandated to fight corruption is key to promote public trust.

Prosecution of high profile corruption cases gives confidence to the public as it nullifies the perception of how justice system can be captured.

 Impunity of some public figures implicated in corruption destroys public trust  hence this has to be avoided.

Anti-corruption agencies should pursue their anti-corruption agenda without fear or favour.

In addition, it is crucial for citizens to have a basic understanding of how the justice system works, identify gaps and advocate for reforms where necessary especially in anti-corruption justice service delivery.

Sandra Matendere

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