Editorial Comment: Zim’s long walk to tackling graft keeps getting harder

LAST March, Zimbabwe set up specialised courts to deal with corruption and a month later, a Special Anti-Corruption Unit housed in the Office of the President and Cabinet to improve efficiency in the fight against all forms of graft, was also established.

Editorial Comment

All this was in addition to the already existing Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, supposedly a functional, constitutional and independent corruption watchdog.

These efforts have, however, not managed to change the perception of public institutions in the eyes of locals as well as the international community, at a time the country is trying to convince foreign investors and international financial institutions that it is fertile for investment.

A number of high-profile cases involving former Cabinet ministers in former President Robert Mugabe’s government have been brought before the courts, and only one conviction, that of former Energy minister Samuel Undenge, has been secured so far, leading to questions if the President Emmerson Mnangagwa administration was sincere in its pledge to rid public institutions of a culture which has made corruption palatable and a part of our everyday life.

According to the latest Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, Zimbabwe continues to rank among the most corrupt countries in the world while perception as a graft-ridden country has worsened.

Zimbabwe ranks similarly to conflict-ridden and war-torn countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Somalia.
Over the past three years, the country has consistently scored lowly across all indices.

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The more than three decades of misrule at the hands of Zanu PF have dissipated public institutions, making them susceptible to manipulation by those who hold positions of power, particularly government officials and high-ranking security officers.

Various forms of corruption, ranging from petty, bureaucratic and political corruption to grand forms of corruption involving high level officials, continue to thrive in the country.

Corruption is also characterised by the deeply entrenched system of political patronage, the tight grip of the ruling Zanu PF party over the security apparatus, and the history of political violence, repression and manipulation.

While the commentary on Zimbabwe by Transparency International does not make pleasant reading, it certainly hits home and should be a call to action for those in power.

Not only must government fight corruption, but it also should be seen to be fighting the sources of corruption.

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