Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
The establishment of the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (Sacu) in the President’s Office and appointment of Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo to lead the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) represents a positive step in breaking the cycle of corruption.
The fight against corruption requires sustained political will, substantial political and economic reform, and a significant shift in attitudes across all sectors in the country.
A lot has been said about corruption and fighting it is a mammoth task.
Across Zimbabwe and most other African countries, corruption is responsible for stalling economic growth and access to basic services by the majority of the people.
It continues to see the corrupt siphoning State assets, soliciting large-scale bribes and stashing ill-gotten gains in offshore bank accounts or investing in properties abroad at the expense of the majority of the poor.
Tackling corruption requires a multifaceted approach that can strengthen institutions and systems and reduce the impact of corruption on the country.
The emergence of the Sacu is a welcome move that will remove obstacles that are constraining the country’s fight against corruption.
Corruption has far-reaching implications in terms of undercutting economic growth and threatening State institutions on the political, social and economic development front.
Multinational companies shun corruption-plagued investment climates and this weakens economic growth in any progressive nation.
This immoral act naturally flourishes at the public sphere’s top tiers, and within the uppermost echelons in private business, engineered by individuals that make executive decisions.
President Mnangagwa, with his eyes firmly set on an upper middle class economy by 2030, is leaving no stone unturned in dealing with graft.
In a show of commitment to halt the vice, the President early this year ripped to shreds the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) because of the sleepy pace at which high-profile corruption cases were moving and describing the disbanded commission as rotten to the core.
With Justice Matanda-Moyo now thrust to the helm of the anti-corruption body, the nation has been assured of credible and competent hands to clean up the mess blamed for vexing the country’s drive to stimulate economic growth.
Indeed, she has touched base and vowed to firmly deal with the vice in line with the expectations of the generality of Zimbabweans.
“Let posterity judge me,” she said, in an expression stuffed with confidence to deal with her fresh mandate, during an interview with journalists after taking oaths of loyalty and office at State House.
A day after taking office, Justice Matanda-Moyo commissioned the Specialised Anti-Corruption Court housed at Masvingo Magistrates’ Courts, where she assured the nation that gone are the days when members of Zacc were found wanting on corruption themselves and vowed that her commission will do everything in its power to change the negative perception in the public on the anti-graft body.
Her appointment is viewed by legal analysts as the correct prescription the doctor has ordered to cure the cancerous diseases agonising the nation by holding back economic growth and scaring away potential investors.
“The appointment of Justice Matanda-Moyo is a welcome and refreshing development, especially in line with the promotion of female participation in public offices and realisation of gender parity,” says legal expert Mr Wellington Pasi.
He says the judge’s integrity is unquestionable and is a seasoned professional in her own right saying any attempts to cast aspersions that she must remain in the shadow of her husband must be treated with the contempt it deserves.
“She has an impeccable history of honesty and excellency as a judge,” he says. “She has never had a complaint of misconduct of any kind. This is the true mark of a leader we are looking for to head the anti-corruption commission.”
Another law expert, Mr Tendai Toto, views the appointment of Justice Matanda-Moyo as an apt demonstration of the State’s will to combat corruption.
But he strongly feels that the citizenry must play its part in efforts to combat corruption.
“It is a fact that corruption is perpetrated by the corruptor and the corrupted, which involves individual citizens, juristic persons in the corporate and private sector,” says Mr Toto, a legal and security consultant with Pledge of Hope, Southern Africa.
“As long as the citizenry is hard-core breathing corruption daily as an ‘essential’ for living and survival, the efforts to combat corruption are meaningless.
“As chairperson, Justice Matanda-Moyo must also implore upon Government to warm up to Zacc and allocate sufficient resources to capacitate the institution in order in many technical areas including but not limited to non-partisan recruitment of competent human capital, research, training and logistics. This can help Zacc to function optimally and effectively.”
Insufficient controls, among them lack of proper policing, training, detection and prosecution undermine the fight against the vice as well as failure to act on audit reports.
Another impediment in the form of lawyers who defend to the hilt their cash cows make the fight against the vice an uphill task.
The United Nations has since acknowledged the threat corruption poses to development and have included Goal 16 into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, calling on member states to “substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms”.
According to the Norwegian Anti-Corruption Research Centre, the nature of corruption is often slippery and complex. It says the vice can develop into new practices that criminal or administrative law does not capture.
“Therefore, anti-corruption practitioners emphasise prevention in addition to punishment,” says the research centre.
“We know much about different elements of anti-corruption work. However, there is no formula that will always work. How to address corruption always depends on the context.”
And for Zimbabwe, which is battling to restore its past glory and lure investors into the country, needs a solid and holistic approach to deal with corruption.
Actioning auditors reports and recommendations, ensuring adequate resources to Zacc, training investigators and a continued sustenance of political will help the country to enhance transparency and accountability.