ED fight against cor­rup­tion is real

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

THIS week saw an un­prece­dented num­ber of high-pro­file in­di­vid­u­als ap­pear­ing be­fore our courts of law in con­nec­tion with cor­rup­tion, giv­ing mo­men­tum to Govern­ment’s fight against graft.

Given the fact that the tol­er­ance thresh­old for the mal­ady of abuse of of­fice and cor­rup­tion had been so low in the coun­try, this is a marked and sig­nif­i­cant shift, which must in­spire con­fi­dence in the gen­er­al­ity of our peo­ple.

Ad­mit­tedly, there has been cyn­i­cism in some quar­ters as to the sin­cer­ity of the ex­er­cise, but the na­tion should rest as­sured that the fight against cor­rup­tion is real and that more cases of cor­rup­tion will be dealt with in the courts, while some pro­ce­dures and pro­cesses are un­der­way to in­sti­tute fur­ther cases that are within the radar.

This will make the fol­low­ing weeks in­ter­est­ing to watch. His Ex­cel­lency, Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa, has al­ready de­clared zero tol­er­ance to cor­rup­tion and has used var­i­ous fora to ham­mer this home: as the wheels of jus­tice turn, Zim­babwe will see the ac­tu­al­i­sa­tion of the anti-cor­rup­tion gov­er­nance par­a­digm es­poused by Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa.

Fight­ing cor­rup­tion is one of the key pil­lars of the Sec­ond Re­pub­lic and Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa has stated that his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s goal is to build a new Zim­babwe-based on trans­parency, ac­count­abil­ity and hard work. He recog­nises that cor­rup­tion is one of the ma­jor causes of the prob­lems that Zim­babwe faces to­day ne­ces­si­tat­ing that all cases be in­ves­ti­gated and pun­ished in ac­cor­dance with the laws of the coun­try.

Govern­ment has al­ready taken the ini­tia­tive and es­tab­lished in­sti­tu­tions to deal with cor­rup­tion. This has seen the es­tab­lish­ment of Spe­cial An­tiCor­rup­tion Courts, a new Anti-Cor­rup­tion Pros­e­cu­tion Unit within the Of­fice of the Pres­i­dent and the in­cor­po­ra­tion of the Pub­lic En­ti­ties Cor­po­rate Gov­er­nance Act.

Fight­ing cor­rup­tion — A global im­per­a­tive

A clean Govern­ment is im­per­a­tive and a key pil­lar in achiev­ing Vision 2030 and up­per mid­dle in­come coun­try (UMIC) sta­tus. Be­fore we delve into de­tails of this par­a­digm, we need to demon­strate that this ad­min­is­tra­tion’s fight against graft is in line with re­gional, con­ti­nen­tal and global stan­dards which re­quire states to in­sti­tute mea­sures to deal with the scourge.

Zim­babwe, as a re­spon­si­ble mem­ber of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, ad­heres to fight­ing cor­rup­tion in line with univer­sal prin­ci­ples set out at United Na­tions, African Union and Sadc re­gional lev­els.

The United Na­tions Con­ven­tion Against Cor­rup­tion is a global frame­work for fight­ing graft and it has a far-reach­ing ap­proach and a manda­tory char­ac­ter whose pro­vi­sions make it a unique tool for de­vel­op­ing a com­pre­hen­sive re­sponse to a global prob­lem. The con­ven­tion cov­ers five main ar­eas: pre­ven­tive mea­sures, crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion and law en­force­ment, in­ter­na­tional co-op­er­a­tion, as­set re­cov­ery, and tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance and in­for­ma­tion ex­change. The con­ven­tion cov­ers many dif­fer­ent forms of cor­rup­tion, such as bribery, trad­ing in in­flu­ence, abuse of func­tions, and var­i­ous acts of cor­rup­tion in the pri­vate sec­tor.

At con­ti­nen­tal level, the African Union (AU) Con­ven­tion on Pre­vent­ing and Com­bat­ing Cor­rup­tion was adopted in 2003. It ad­dresses cor­rup­tion in the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors. It rep­re­sents a con­sen­sus on what African coun­tries should do in the ar­eas of preven­tion, crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion, in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion and as­set re­cov­ery. Its pro­vi­sions crim­i­nalise do­mes­tic and for­eign bribery, di­ver­sion of prop­erty by pub­lic of­fi­cials, trad­ing in in­flu­ence, il­licit en­rich­ment, money laun­der­ing and con­ceal­ment of prop­erty. Ear­lier in the year, the African Union, dur­ing its 30th Assem­bly of Heads of State and Govern­ment in Jan­uary 2018, launched 2018 as the African Anti-Cor­rup­tion Year.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa at­tended the sum­mit, held un­der the theme “Win­ning the Fight Against Cor­rup­tion: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Trans­for­ma­tion”. Africa also has a variety of in­stru­ments aimed at fight­ing cor­rup­tion, among oth­ers, the African Char­ter on the val­ues and prin­ci­ples of pub­lic ser­vice and ad­min­is­tra­tion, and the African Char­ter on the val­ues and prin­ci­ples of de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion, lo­cal gov­er­nance and lo­cal de­vel­op­ment.

At re­gional level, the Sadc Pro­to­col Against Cor­rup­tion aims to pro­mote and strengthen the de­vel­op­ment, within each mem­ber state, of mech­a­nisms needed to pre­vent, de­tect, pun­ish and erad­i­cate cor­rup­tion in the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors. The pro­to­col fur­ther seeks to fa­cil­i­tate and reg­u­late co-op­er­a­tion in mat­ters of cor­rup­tion among mem­ber states and foster de­vel­op­ment and har­mon­i­sa­tion of poli­cies and do­mes­tic leg­is­la­tion re­lated to cor­rup­tion.

The pro­to­col clearly de­fines “acts of cor­rup­tion” pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures, ju­ris­dic­tion of mem­ber states as well as ex­tra­di­tion.

The aims of the pro­to­col are:

(a) to pro­mote the de­vel­op­ment of anti-cor­rup­tion mech­a­nisms at the na­tional level

(b) to pro­mote co-op­er­a­tion in the fight against cor­rup­tion by state par­ties

(c) To har­monise anti-cor­rup­tion leg­is­la­tion in the re­gion

The pro­to­col also, no­tably, pro­vides a wide set of pre­ven­tive mech­a­nisms which in­clude: de­vel­op­ment of code of con­duct for pub­lic of­fi­cials; trans­parency in pub­lic pro­cure­ment of goods and ser­vices; easy ac­cess to pub­lic in­for­ma­tion; pro­tec­tion of whis­tle blow­ers; es­tab­lish­ment of anti-cor­rup­tion agen­cies; de­velop sys­tems of ac­count­abil­ity and con­trols; par­tic­i­pa­tion of the me­dia and civil so­ci­ety; and use of pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness as a way of in­tro­duc­ing zero tol­er­ance for cor­rup­tion.

Zim­babwe re­lates to th­ese mea­sures and has es­pe­cially taken steps to adopt them and lo­calise the fight against cor­rup­tion.

Fight­ing cor­rup­tion as an en­abler

for vision of UMIC

When Zim­babwe adopted the pol­icy of seek­ing to achieve up­per mid­dle in­come coun­try sta­tus by 2030 we set out a num­ber of “New Dis­pen­sa­tion Core Val­ues”.

Fight­ing cor­rup­tion is one of the is­sues we iden­ti­fied to be at the cen­tre of achiev­ing UMIC. Some of the pre­cepts of the anti-cor­rup­tion drive are trans­parency, ac­count­abil­ity and value for money.

Govern­ment is im­ple­ment­ing a num­ber of mea­sures on fight­ing cor­rup­tion, one of the sources of in­creased cost of do­ing busi­ness, rent-seek­ing be­hav­iour and in­ef­fi­ciency on ser­vice de­liv­ery in both pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors. In the min­ing sec­tor, there is need for greater trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity in the man­age­ment of mineral rev­enue and Govern­ment will im­prove mineral gov­er­nance, in­clud­ing adop­tion of in­ter­na­tional best prac­tices, ben­e­fit­ing from the Ex­trac­tive In­dus­try Trans­parency Ini­tia­tive (EITI).

The New Govern­ment is ca­pac­i­tat­ing Zim­babwe Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion,

na­tional the the po­lice and pros­e­cut­ing au­thor­i­ties with the req­ui­site skills to in­ves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute crimes re­lated to cor­rup­tion. Sim­i­larly, Govern­ment is ex­pe­dit­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of a Com­mer­cial Crimes Court to fast­track the pros­e­cu­tion of such of­fend­ers.

Re­gard­ing as­set dec­la­ra­tion, the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa has set the re­quire­ment for Cabi­net min­is­ters and se­nior pub­lic ser­vants to de­clare their as­sets. Work is also un­der­way to set up anti-cor­rup­tion courts.

In the cor­rup­tion fight, Govern­ment will fight ex­ter­nal­i­sa­tion of funds, which has seen us in­sti­tute the Fi­nance Act of 2018, amend­ing the Ex­change Con­trol Act by em­body­ing “Amnesty in Re­spect of Il­le­gally Ex­pa­tri­ated Prop­erty” to ad­dress indis­ci­pline which had seen many in­di­vid­u­als and le­gal per­sons mov­ing as­sets off­shore.

Govern­ment has also en­acted the Pub­lic Pro­cure­ment and Dis­posal of Pub­lic As­sets Act, and sub­se­quently es­tab­lished the Pro­cure­ment Reg­u­la­tory Author­ity of Zim­babwe which de­cen­tralises the pro­cure­ment process to pub­lic en­ti­ties to en­sure that pub­lic pro­cure­ment and dis­posal of as­sets is ef­fected in a man­ner that is trans­par­ent, cost-ef­fec­tive and com­pet­i­tive. Ad­di­tion­ally, the Pub­lic En­ti­ties Cor­po­rate Gov­er­nance Act has also been en­acted, to im­prove the in­ter­nal man­age­ment struc­tures of paras­tatals and other pub­lic en­ti­ties, which had been char­ac­terised by mal­prac­tices and cor­rup­tion.

Look­ing the beast in the eye

Cases of cor­rup­tion and se­ri­ous fraud are com­plex and tech­ni­cal by na­ture. This re­quires us to look the beast in the eye. Ex­pe­ri­ences else­where make this re­la­tion.

In the United King­dom where tri­als are con­ducted be­fore a jury, there have been ef­forts to make se­ri­ous fraud cases be heard with­out a jury. This was be­cause it was felt that the com­plex­ity of the cases was mud­dling the jury up. In Zim­babwe the fail­ure to con­vict has been seen to sug­gest ei­ther a con­tam­i­nated sys­tem or a skills deficit. The lat­ter is es­pe­cially poignant.

Is the cur­rent or­di­nary ju­di­ciary train­ing ad­e­quate to deal with the com­plex cor­rup­tion cases that the courts are seized with?

On the other hand, are our courts en­dowed with enough in­tegrity to tackle cor­rup­tion? We are pos­i­tive that our courts are ca­pac­i­tated with both talent and in­tegrity. Soon, Govern­ment will in­cul­cate the right mea­sures of aware­ness, fo­cus and ethic that will usher a sea-change in how the ju­di­ciary con­ducts it­self in line with Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa’s stance on cor­rup­tion.

The move­ment in the fight against cor­rup­tion — as seen in this week’s de­vel­op­ments — points to a pos­i­tive tra­jec­tory. The uni­ver­sally ac­cepted tru­ism is that suc­cess­ful con­vic­tion and in­car­cer­a­tion of high-pro­file in­di­vid­u­als will send the right mes­sage to all that this Govern­ment means busi­ness when it comes to zero tol­er­ance to cor­rup­tion. Of course, the ar­rests have also sent the mes­sage that impunity no longer works. But noth­ing sends a more solid mes­sage than ar­rest, con­vic­tion fol­lowed by seizure and con­fis­ca­tion of as­sets.

There is also noth­ing that says we should not be able to put in place leg­is­la­tion that al­lows the seizure of un­ex­plained wealth even if there is no con­vic­tion. The bur­den to prove a crim­i­nal case beyond rea­son­able doubt may prove too steep a sum­mit to climb but if we are not go­ing to be a hub for or­gan­ised crime, then peo­ple should be able to ex­plain their wealth. Fail­ure should be as­sumed to mean it’s ill­got­ten, and is seized and con­verted to pub­lic use.

Ac­tions of such na­ture will en­hance pub­lic con­fi­dence and kill this ap­a­thy that seems to be creep­ing in and damp­en­ing pub­lic morale due to lack of con­vic­tions. It also di­min­ishes the quality of pub­lic ser­vice and our democ­racy. Fail­ure to suc­cess­fully pros­e­cute high-level cor­rup­tion has the ef­fect of weak­en­ing our in­sti­tu­tions and dis­tort­ing the rule of law. There is a need to re-es­tab­lish pub­lic trust. And to re­cover trust and strengthen pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions the bad guys must go to prison. When high-pro­file peo­ple are ar­rested and pub­licly ar­raigned this must yield tan­gi­ble results in or­der to gal­vanise pub­lic will and de­ter oth­ers.

It fol­lows that for each mega ar­rest, we shall see a mega con­vic­tion or other­wise, upon a cred­i­ble jus­tice process. Zim­babwe has a re­form-minded Pres­i­dent cham­pi­oning the fight against crim­i­nal abuse of of­fice and cor­rup­tion.

En­trenched cor­rup­tion must face both so­cial and le­gal op­po­si­tion other­wise it con­tin­ues to af­fect the ef­fec­tive­ness of our Govern­ment. The most vis­i­ble state­ment of “zero tol­er­ance to cor­rup­tion” is a crim­i­nal con­vic­tion — and we are con­fi­dent that this will soon be bold enough. —The Her­ald.

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