Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) has started consulting members of the public to make contributions to the country’s national anti-corruption strategy.
Zimbabwe does not have a national anti-corruption strategy in place while the government is seen as more reactive than proactive in dealing with the scourge.
According to Article 5 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, of which Zimbabwe is a signatory, member states must develop, implement and coordinate anti-corruption policies.
Corruption in the country remains endemic although there have been policy responses to address it such as the three months amnesty extended to those who externalised funds, the setting up of special anti-corruption courts and mandatory declaration of assets by senior public officials.
However, the public claims these remain ineffective which has seen the corruption dragnet only catching a few individuals who are later set free by the courts.
It is against this background that TIZ has started consulting citizens on what should form part of the country’s national anti-corruption strategy and how it should be enforced.
In an interview with CITE on the sidelines of a consultation meeting in Bulawayo, Friday, with various stakeholders, TIZ programmes manager, Farai Mutondoro, said the gatherings were part of a campaign to produce the national anti-corruption strategy.
“This document has been informed by a series of activities that TIZ has embarked on, to campaign for the effective development of a national anti-corruption strategy so as to influence development.
“TIZ has done a series of consultative workshops, conducted radio programmes , dialogue sessions, review workshops with the main aim of producing a document that reflects Zimbabwe’s interests in as far as fighting corruption,” he said.
Mutondoro said it was crucial that the government prioritised a strategy that prevented corruption rather than to manage it.
“Zimbabwe does not have policy or strategy to prevent so we are campaigning for the government to put in place a framework for preventing and we are yet to have one national indaba to come up with a succinct document,” he said.
From the consultations, people said Zimbabwe had to prioritise five subjects.
“People said there should be judicial integrity to prevent corruption in the judiciary. We need a strong independent judiciary. Second is public finance management accountability in the management of public funds because people are being taxed day in day out and they want is that money being used.
“Land sector was another factor, which comes against a backdrop of corruption cases in the land sector but as we speak right now government set up a land commission to investigate sale of state land, which is a more reactive approach. The mining sector is another area where people need transparency in the extractive sector. In terms of action areas Zimbabwe needs to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and prioritise the finality of the Mines and Minerals Act so that it has strong provisions to prevent corruption,” he said.
The fifth point people hammered on was that there should be an empowered citizenry to hold government accountable, said Mutondoro.
“We need citizens to be part of the development of strong initiatives, citizens need to attend bill hearings and need to monitor how public funds are used. Citizens spoke about business integrity and build a strong business sector in a context where corruption is increasing the cost of doing business by 10 to 15 percent.”
Mutondoro said from these strategic options, TIZ was encouraging people to come up with an objective and action areas of what needs to be done.
He added that TIZ was aware that ZACC has started also started a process for consultations on the national anti-corruption strategy and was not competing with them.
“In actual fact we are going to submit these submissions to them to save on their time and resources as well. What we are going to do is compile as much information as we can from citizens and make submissions. We feel that the custodians of this document should be Zimbabwean through its various agencies the Parliament and the business sector. “The process to formulate the national anti-corruption strategies. It shouldn’t only be confined to one agency that’s not enough as there are six strategic options and one actor cannot do all the functions,” said Mutondoro.