The Sunday Mail
Is the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission ideally structured and sufficiently equipped to tackle the political and technical aspects of graft in the country?
This is the question that has long been voiced by many Zimbabweans.
Again, this is a question that has its basis on the fact that the country is ranked highly on the global corruption indices.
Many people, including senior Government officials, have conceded that corruption, in high places, has become some sort of horrible sub-culture.
It has gradually trickled down to become almost mainstream such that some people resignedly point out that even Zimbabweans below the age of 13 often seek ways to circumvent fair adjudication of class tests by their school teachers.
Almost every Zimbabwean looks for a shortcut because of the perceived unchecked corruption in high political and private sector business offices.
When citizens believe that “important” officials are getting away with grand theft, it makes it easier for them to want to bribe their way in getting various goods and services.
Thereafter, it is a small step for ordinary citizens to escalate the scale of their own graft such that corruption becomes a mainstream culture in Zimbabwe.
It is in a bid to address this particular problem that President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently gave the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission arresting powers.
By any measure, this was a bold and strategic move that, in itself, raises public confidence in the anti-graft crusade and in Government’s commitment to protecting tax dollars and levelling the playing field for all economic players regardless of their political or social status.
Right now, processes are in motion to have a whistle-blower facility so that people feel safe to lift the lid on graft in their own circles, big and small.
It cannot be over-emphasised that the sooner such legal provisions are enacted, the better for Zimbabwe.
That the commissioners of ZACC went through a public selection process and that the commission has been given arresting powers, the organisation is now well-positioned to contribute significantly to the economic growth and development agenda.
This is so because much anecdotal evidence points to corruption, among other negative internal and external factors, as a major contributory factor to Zimbabwe’s economic under-performance and, indeed, decline over the past 20 years.
While it is good that ZACC now has arresting powers, the old adage still rings true: prevention is better than cure.
So just how can ZACC be as much part of the preventive aspects of fighting graft as much as it is reactive after the nasty fact?
After all, while it is well and good that someone is nabbed on charges of allegedly looting $95 million, it is better for the entire nation if that heist is stopped before it is completed.
Proactive strategies and approaches are very important when it comes to fighting corruption, especially within the context of creating an efficient public sector and a progressive private sector.
That is where information technology and forensic auditing come in.
These are two fields that other countries have increasingly found to be inextricably interlinked within the context of IT development, financial sector security and national development.
The private sector should be at the forefront of developing software that makes the utmost use of new technologies and forensic capabilities.
Government — particularly through the ICT Ministry and the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development — should be creating the ideal environment and providing the right foundation for greater fusion of new technologies and forensic auditing.
It is no great leap for the public and private sectors to use technology to trace movement of money, procurement and other aspects of transacting that often attract the attentions of the corrupt among us.
Indeed, the work of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission will become much easier when technology is brought into play and all progressive Zimbabweans see that they too can participate in the fight against graft through new technologies and without fear of repercussions.
Tafara Sasa is a forensic auditor who holds a Forensic Accounting and Auditing degree. He wrote this article for The Sunday Mail.