Fol­low­ing through on AG re­port

Dur­ing the war of lib­er­a­tion cadres in Zanla forces would sing the song Nzira Dze­ma­soja. It was adopted from chair­man Mao’s mil­i­tary doc­trine “Three Rules of Dis­ci­ple and Eight Points of At­ten­tion.”

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Review - Christopher Charamba Fea­tures Writer

STAND out lyrics in the song

are “Bhad­harai zva­munotenga nen­zira dza­kanaka // Mud­zorere zv­inhu zvose

zva­munenge ma­tora” — Pay fairly for ev­ery­thing that you buy // re­turn ev­ery­thing that you take”.

In a nut­shell this calls on those who live by this code to be peo­ple of in­tegrity, to shun cor­rupt prac­tices and re­spect peo­ple and their prop­erty.

The is­sue of cor­rup­tion is one that has cap­tured na­tional dis­course time and time again and is seen as a mas­sive hin­drance to eco­nomic pros­per­ity in Zim­babwe.

On nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions is­sues re­lat­ing to cor­rup­tion have been re­ported in the me­dia yet the re­sponse has been meek at best.

One agency that has been at the fore­front of ex­pos­ing cor­rupt prac­tices par­tic­u­larly in gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions and paras­tatals is the Of­fice of the Au­di­tor Gen­eral.

Over the years, Au­di­tor-Gen­eral Mil­dred Chiri’s of­fice has put out a re­port which has ex­posed cor­rupt prac­tices in Gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions.

In 2015 the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral’s au­dit re­port of the min­istries showed 22 out of the 32 at the time had poor cor­po­rate gov­er­nance, abused funds, flouted pro­cure­ment pro­ce­dures and other such cor­rupt prac­tices.

This fig­ure had ac­tu­ally in­creased from the pre­vi­ous year, 2014, where 18 min­istries were re­ported in the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral’s re­port.

One would think that in 2014 when more than half the min­istries were said to have acted un­eth­i­cally the si­t­u­a­tion would have been cor­rected, it in fact got worse. This year is no dif­fer­ent. In the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral’s re­port for the fi­nan­cial year end­ing De­cem­ber 2016 it was re­vealed that the Zim­babwe Elec­tric­ity Trans­mis­sion and Dis­tri­bu­tion Com­pany (ZETDC) paid Pow­er­tel close to $10 mil­lion as com­mis­sion for sell­ing pre­paid elec­tric­ity to whole­salers, some­thing it could have done it­self, the Na­tional So­cial Se­cu­rity Au­thor­ity (NSSA) “can­not lo­cate” a $3,4 mil­lion piece of land in Chegutu that it bought us­ing pensioners’ money and the Zim­babwe Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion failed to ac­count for $735 000.

Each time an Au­dit Re­port is pro­duced, it comes with rec­om­men­da­tions, some which call for in­ves­ti­ga­tions into is­sues of fi­nan­cial ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and other prac­tices which may be deemed cor­rupt.

What is not re­ported is whether these in­ves­ti­ga­tions are ever un­der­taken or how they turn out if they are.

Con­sti­tu­tional law ex­pert Sharon Hofisi said there is an is­sue of ver­ti­cal ac­count­abil­ity at play and if the Au­di­tor Gen­eral’s re­port rec­om­men­da­tions point to in­ves­ti­ga­tions then it the po­lice with the as­sis­tance of ZACC which should in­ves­ti­gate.

“ZACC is a watch­dog on cor­rup­tion and the au­di­tor gen­eral is im­por­tant in the good gov­er­nance.

“ZACC how­ever does not have ar­rest­ing pow­ers and so it can­not work alone. Once the Au­di­tor Gen­eral has un­earthed is­sues then ZACC can work with the po­lice who have in­ves­tiga­tive pow­ers en­shrined in the con­sti­tu­tion S219.

“Un­der the same Sec­tion the po­lice must ex­er­cise its func­tions in co-op­er­a­tions with any­body that is es­tab­lished by law for the pur­pose of de­tect­ing, in­ves­ti­gat­ing or pre­vent­ing par­tic­u­lar classes of of­fences such as ZACC,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Hofisi, the au­dit re­port alone is not enough to bring charges against an in­di­vid­ual or an in­sti­tu­tion and that fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions need to be done.

“When look­ing at these is­sues they fall un­der the as­pect of good gov­er­nance which is one of the found­ing prin­ci­ples of the con­sti­tu­tion in Sec­tion 3.

“There are four things to look at, ac­count­abil­ity be­ing the first, which the Au­di­tor Gen­eral’s re­port serves to do.

“The next is trans­parency, which pub­lish­ing the re­port and mak­ing it ac­ces­si­ble does.

“The third thing is re­spon­sive­ness where ZACC and the po­lice fall in terms of in­ves­ti­gat­ing and fi­nally jus­tice where should there be suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence, the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity (NPA) then pros­e­cutes,” he said.

Mr Hofisi added that it was im­por­tant though for the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral’s re­port to be clear on the in­ci­dents of cor­rup­tion as if it is vague it may not war­rant in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“If the re­port of­fers rec­om­men­da­tions then it must be clear as to what type of cor­rup­tion it is for those who are in­ves­ti­gat­ing to have a clue on what to look for.

“They can’t just say that there was a mis­man­age­ment of funds with­out ex­pla­na­tions.

“Once in­ves­ti­ga­tions are done by the po­lice and the de­ci­sion to pros­e­cute has been made, the au­dit re­port will then be used as part of doc­u­men­tary ev­i­dence in court which but­tresses the fact that public funds were abused,” he said.

Act­ing Pros­e­cu­tor-Gen­eral Ad­vo­cate Ray Goba echoed Mr Hofisi’s sen­ti­ments by stat­ing that his of­fice can only re­act to is­sues of cor­rup­tion once in­ves­ti­ga­tions have been done by the po­lice and re­ferred to them.

“We do not fol­low up on is­sues that are in the au­dit re­port. That is left to the po­lice and the Zim­babwe Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion.

“Once they have done their in­ves­ti­ga­tions and have suit­able ev­i­dence they then bring it to us and we de­cide whether there is enough to take pros­e­cu­to­rial ac­tion. It is not our func­tion to in­ves­ti­gate mat­ters,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Ad­vo­cate Goba, the Con­sti­tu­tion clearly spells out the roles and func­tions of the dif­fer­ent agen­cies in­clud­ing the NPA and the of­fice of the Pros­e­cu­tor-Gen­eral.

“Pros­e­cu­tion is based on ev­i­dence and as the NPA we have our du­ties and func­tions dif­fer­ent from other arms. We can­not stray into other peo­ple’s de­part­ments. Mat­ters are brought to us; we do not go look­ing for them.

“If there is a crime that has been com­mit­ted, some­one should re­port these mat­ters to the po­lice who have the pow­ers to in­ves­ti­gate these mat­ters.

“We can’t just say af­ter read­ing about things in the news­pa­pers that we are go­ing to pros­e­cute, there needs to be a case that has been re­ported and the Commissioner Gen­eral of the po­lice who has the pow­ers to do so should in­ves­ti­gate.

“A crim­i­nal case starts with a com­plaint. If some­one breaks into your house and you do not re­port it to the po­lice, then no case can be opened.

“The po­lice are duty bound to in­ves­ti­gate any cases that are brought for­ward to them and if they find ev­i­dence of a crime they then re­fer these to the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity,” he said.

Se­nior As­sis­tant Commissioner Char­ity Charamba said the po­lice will in­ves­ti­gate mat­ters that ap­pear in a re­port once there is com­plainant.

“If a re­port is pro­duced, what usu­ally hap­pens is there is a com­plainant who re­ports to the po­lice and says ‘we feel there is a crime that has been com­mit­ted that needs to be in­ves­ti­gated.

“Once a com­plaint has been filed then we can in­ves­ti­gate fur­ther,” she said.

Snr Asst Com Charamba added that any­one has the pre­rog­a­tive to lodge a com­plaint if they be­lieve that there is a crim­i­nal case that war­rants in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“If the case hap­pens to be in a state in­sti­tu­tion or min­istry then a per­ma­nent sec­re­tary for ex­am­ple can ap­proach us and lodge a com­plaint against a par­tic­u­lar min­istry or in­sti­tu­tion and then in­ves­ti­ga­tions will be­gin.

Sec­tion 255 of the Con­sti­tu­tion spells out the func­tions of the Zim­babwe Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion which in­clude, in­ves­ti­gate and ex­pose cases of cor­rup­tion in the public and pri­vate sec­tors; com­bat cor­rup­tion, theft, mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion, abuse of power and other im­proper con­duct in the public and pri­vate sec­tors; and direct the Commissioner-Gen­eral of Po­lice to in­ves­ti­gate cases of sus­pected cor­rup­tion and to re­port to the Com­mis­sion on the re­sults of any such in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The Con­sti­tu­tion, the supreme law of Zim­babwe ex­plic­itly points out bod­ies that are re­spon­si­ble for in­ves­ti­gat­ing cor­rup­tion, those with ar­rest­ing pow­ers and those with pros­e­cu­to­rial pow­ers.

What seems to be lack­ing is the po­lit­i­cal will to ac­tu­ally fol­low through on the rec­om­men­da­tions of the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral’s re­port and lodge the rel­e­vant com­plaints with the po­lice so in­ves­ti­ga­tions can be­gin.

Those be­stowed with such a re­spon­si­bil­ity should per­haps re­flect on the words of the Nzira Dze­ma­soja, an im­por­tant song in the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle of Zim­babwe and live up to the in­tegrity that the code asks for.

Au­di­tor-Gen­eral Mil­dred Chiri

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