War on corruption goes techno – AIT’s technology seeks to curb graft – Everyone, everywhere is a whistleblower

“IN fighting corruption, we don’t have friends. It’s each man for himself. I’m happy that most people in the leadership accept the concept of fighting corruption.”

The above words by President Emmerson Mnangagwa aptly capture the no nonsense mood in Government when it comes to fighting corruption in the country. President Mnangagwa has used almost every platform he gets to chastise corrupt tendencies in every part of society, saying this should not be tolerated and those caught on the wrong side will face the consequences.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), Parliament of Zimbabwe, other security agencies and civil society have joined the commander-in-chief in his anti-corruption crusade and this has begun to bear fruits.

Chief corruption fighter, ZACC, on May 31 begins consultations on the National Anti-Corruption Strategy by holding a series of workshops where all important stakeholders in the fight against sleaze will take part.

Last month the Judicial Services Commission appointed 12 magistrates, seven in Harare and five in Bulawayo, to preside over corruption cases. Five court rooms were refurbished in the two cities while selected members of the prosecution team have undergone training on handling corruption matters.

The specialised anti-corruption courts are set to ensure the speedy handling of corruption cases.

To complement Government efforts, a local organisation, Africa Innovation Trust (AIT), has launched a new, unique internet tool, which enables citizens to report corruption as it happens.

On the other hand, parliamentary portfolio committees have already proved that there are no sacred cows in the fight against corruption by hauling high profile individuals before their commissions.

This, says the AIT Lead Resource Benjamin Nyandoro, proves that all hands are on the deck in the fight against the corruption scourge, which is responsible for many of the ills in Zimbabwe.

“Corruption does not only scare away investors — it lands lucrative Government contracts in the hands of people with no capacity to handle them, it makes those who should be watchdogs in society look the other way, it makes key institutions like courts of law not to be trusted by the people and it eats away into the fabric of who we are as a nation,” said Nyandoro.

“AIT has developed tools and platforms, namely ‘I See You’ (ICU) and ‘Tender Tracking Tool’ (T3), whose aim is to strengthen public accountability in Zimbabwe. The ICU is useful for reporting corruption whilst the T3 serves the purpose of promoting accountability in the tendering process.”

AIT’s mobile application, ICU (I See You), can be downloaded free of charge on Android, iOS and Windows devices. The platform allows the public to report corruption via either text, image, audio or video.

Speaking to The Sunday Mail Society ZACC Public Education and Publicity chairperson Mrs Farai Chinyani commended efforts by civil society, Government and other stakeholders in trying to create a corrupt free environment in Zimbabwe.

“AIT has reached out to us and we are excited by these developments because we can tap into their technology and ensure that we get reports on corruption in real time. Together with other agencies like the police we can then ensure that the long arm of the law reaches whoever is involved in corruption.

“We commend Government efforts as well because we have been given the freedom to do our work. But Government cannot do everything on its own. Sometimes even the resources can be lacking. So it is important to have civil organisations or anyone chipping in to help fight corruption,” said Mrs Chinyani.

She said ZACC welcomed input from all stakeholders such as anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International Zimbabwe among others, as this helps in creating an environment that gives the world accurate information, thus boosting investor confidence among other things.

“We are urging all these stakeholders to join us in Harare on May 31, Bulawayo June 7 and Harare again June 14 as we consult on our National Anti-Corruption Strategy and mapping the way forward. We are inviting all Zimbabweans to be a part of it,” said Mrs Chinyani.

AIT’s latest innovation, ICU (I See You), is a first for Zimbabwe, SADC, Africa and beyond that responds to the bulk of concerns often raised around reporting cases of corruption. Among the concerns are quality of evidence and safety of whistle blowers. The ICU, is a platform that provides a reporting function for up to date uploads and comments on critical developments in this remarkable time.

Explained Nyandoro: “This is a project which seeks to promote public accountability through development and deployment of contemporary innovations that allow citizens to report on incidents of corruption.

“AIT has come up with information technology tools to combat corruption at the same time protecting citizens. The development will protect the whistle blowers from any form of victimisation and harm as they will do so secretly. AIT notes the growing prevalence of reported cases of corruption in public institutions.

“However, these remain cases reported at the discretion of ‘gate keepers’, largely the media, both public and private. AIT’s intervention provides alternative tools and platforms that allow the public to report on corruption, significantly contribute and participate in efforts towards promoting public accountability.”

Since the inception of the project in May 2017, AIT has undertaken activities to build stakeholder capacities to demand and promote accountability in Zimbabwe.

“AIT has successfully developed and deployed a Tender Tracking Tool (T3) that is custom designed to capture, track and analyse a tender project performance. These ICT tools shall complement already existing digital platforms in the fight against corruption.

“At the back of the successful launch of Africa Accountability (2.0) project in Zimbabwe, AIT now focuses on customising the tools and platforms in preparation for a launch in Zambia and Malawi.”

German physicist/philosopher Albert Einstein once remarked that, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”

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