Huge Gaps Exist in Zimbabwe’s Implementation of Article 5 (Preventative Anti-Corruption Policies and Practices) of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption

The Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) has noted with concern that gaps still exist in the enforcement of Zimbabwe’s anti-corruption laws and policies. The existing laws are sometimes selectively enforced as there are ‘untouchables’ especially among the Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) who are sometimes exempted from scrutiny because of their high profile positions. This is one of the areas of concern raised by ACT-SA in a civil society shadow report produced as a contribution to the United Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) implementation review process in Zimbabwe’s second cycle. You are free to access the report from here

The Report acknowledges that Zimbabwe has made significant progress towards developing normative legal frameworks for the implementation of Chapter II (Preventive Measures) and Chapter V (Asset Recovery) of the UNCAC.

However, despite having several anti-corruption laws, policies and institutional arrangements in place, their effectiveness becomes questionable considering the ever-increasing cases of corruption. The report has also flagged a lack of political will and inadequate resources deployed to anti-corruption institutions as significant drawbacks in fostering effective corruption prevention and an effective stolen asset recovery regime.

Mr. Obert Chinhamo, one of the officials of the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) applauded the Government of Zimbabwe for putting in place several anti-corruption laws and policies towards implementing Article 5 (Preventive anti-corruption policies and practices) of the UNCAC but decried huge gaps in the enforcement of the same.

“The Constitution of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission Act [Chapter 9:22] are among some of the existing laws. Furthermore, Zimbabwe developed the Transitional Stabilization Programme (2018–2020) that identified corruption as one of the national challenges that require attention. In addition, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the Office of the Auditor General carry out system reviews and audits that unearth corruption and other irregularities. However, ACT-SA is concerned that recommendations from the Auditor General have largely been ignored and thus, the integrity of public accounting is not preserved. The audits are largely perceived as merely academic with no meaningful policy reforms. Whilst the current Auditor General has done commendable work; there have been delays in finalising Audit Reports. The Audit Office Act [Chapter 22:18] requires the Auditor General to examine public accounts and thereafter submit a report to the Minister of Finance no later than 30 June of each year. However, at the time of publishing the ACT-SA report, the 2019 Audit Report was yet to be finalised. The failure to timeously produce an audit report compromises principles of public finance management and limits the effectiveness of audits as an intrinsic tool in the detection and deterrence of resource abuse, and is important in identifying corruption risks and vulnerabilities in public finance.” he says

In addition, Mr. Chinhamo pointed out that his organisation was not happy with the process used in crafting the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan for 2020-2024 that was launched on 11 July 2020.

“The development process lacked inclusivity, since several CSOs such as the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) were not consulted. ZACC may have its own reasons why it excluded some CSOs but the lack of buy-in from relevant CSOs may jeopardise its implementation. This is one area that needs improvement considering that it is everyone’s responsibility to fight corruption” he adds.

In the report, ACT-SA recommended a more robust framework for the prevention of corruption within the private sector. The existence of cartels in the fuel sector and monopolies in the pharmaceutical industry, serve to drive up the costs of basic goods, which adversely affect the general population. The fact that Sakunda and Greenfuel Pvt Limited enjoy a monopoly in the fuel sector is indicative of the need for more robust policy and legislation on private sector corruption regarding monopolies in the different sectors.

ACT-SA raised a concern that existing laws are selectively enforced as there are ‘untouchables’ among the Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs). A classic example is the case of the former Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Obert Mpofu, was subpoenaed to appear before a relevant parliamentary portfolio committee to answer to allegations of corruption in the mining sector in which US$15 billion disappeared, but he refused to attend the hearings, and no action has been taken against him to date. This means that Zimbabwe still harbours individuals who are above the law, giving credence to accusations of impunity against corruption, despite the fact that Zimbabwe signed and ratified the UNCAC, the SADC Protocol against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption that prohibits impunity.

Read the full report here (2MB PDF)

Source: Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-Southern Africa)

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