The 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index Results – Rethinking the Anti-Corruption Agenda in Zimbabwe

The results of the 2018 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) are out and Zimbabwe’s score on the CPI has remained on 22 just the same as in 2017 (below the regional average for Sub Saharan African which is 32). Whilst the new political administration that came into power in November 2017, has embarked on an anti-corruption agenda which saw the introduction of a number of policy and institutional frameworks designed to fight corruption , the sad reality is that those measures have not yielded much results. Zimbabwe remains trapped amongst a cluster of countries that are perceived to be very corrupt.

Corruption adversely affects economic development and with the “Zimbabwe Is Open for Business” mantra it is imperative that the country escalates its efforts in the fight against corruption. The 2018 CPI score reveals a structural failure in the country’s anti-corruption agenda. Transparency International Zimbabwe (TI Z) is of the view that the following are crucial if Zimbabwe is to register any meaningful strides in its fight against corruption:

1. An anti-corruption agenda that is premised on preventing rather than managing corruption as it is seemingly the case at the present moment. Zimbabwe’s anti-corruption efforts lack a multi-stakeholder approach guided by a National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS). A National Anti-Corruption Strategy that will enlist the country’s key anti-corruption priorities, anti-corruption functions and institutions (beyond the traditional Chapter 13 Institutions prescribed in the Constitution) as well as provide for a framework for monitoring the implementation of these anti-corruption initiatives.

2. A citizenry that is engaged in the fight against corruption. Freedom of expression is key in this regard. In some countries such as South Africa, social media has played a big role in exposing corruption and keeping the public discourse around corruption alive.

3. Improved access to information especially in fiscal transparency. Fiscal transparency will reduce corruption vulnerabilities in the management of public funds and increase the likelihood that those who do so will be held to account. However, Zimbabwe ranks poorly in this area. In the 2017 Open Budget Survey (OBS) Zimbabwe scored 23 out of 100 signifying that the Government of Zimbabwe continues to provide the public with minimal budget information.

4. Ending the culture of impunity. The creation of anti-corruption courts while noble is yet to yield positive results. The rate of conviction remains very low. The failure to hold to account those implicated in corruption scandals creates incentives for corruption and is a threat to the rule of law and democracy.

The low CPI score of 22 signals what potential investors perceive of Government’s commitment in addressing corruption. It marks Zimbabwe as a high-risk investment country as corruption increases the premium of doing business by 10% to 15% and will likely force other investors to consider investing in countries that have strong institutions that guarantee transparency and accountability.

Therefore, for Zimbabwe to be truly “Open for Business”, the Government needs to confront corruption head on and take sincere measures that are designed to enhance transparency and accountability.

Source: Transparency International Zimbabwe