The Sunday Mail
Comm John Makamure
The past week saw the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) convene meetings in all the country’s 10 provinces to receive final input from stakeholders on the development of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS).
The strategy validation workshops were well-attended, thanks to the citizens of Zimbabwe who are seeing increased value derived from engaging the commission, which has an important constitutional mandate to prevent and combat corruption in both the public and private sectors.
The valuable input that was received from the validation workshops will feed into the finalisation of the strategy document, paving the way for its official launch by His Excellency, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, before end of this month.
The background to the development of the NACS is that the scourge of corruption still thrives despite the country’s advanced Constitution, which provides a comprehensive fundamental framework for creating good governance and a high standard of ethics and integrity in the public service, and its many laws that regulate public financial management and procurement, that criminalise corruption and that establish multiple institutions to fight corruption.
What has been glaringly lacking is national consensus on the strategy to fight the scourge.
A National Anti-Corruption Strategy is a Government initiative that aims to build consensus and ownership of the fight against corruption.
The strategy will serve as a joint declaration against corruption in any form and herald a resolute commitment to an ethical and accountable State, and clean governance in business and civil society sectors.
It will also signal a commitment by those in positions of power to act with integrity, while inculcating a society where citizens are aware of their rights and responsibilities, respect the rule of law and are empowered to hold those in power to account.
ZACC managed to come up with the following vision for the NACS following the consultations that were held: “To make Zimbabwe a corruption-free country where honesty and integrity become the main culture”.
The mission statement is as follows: “Development, establishment and maintenance of a self-sustaining integrity, transparency, accountable and ethical mechanism by which corruption is shunned by all stakeholders and eventually eliminated.”
The following six strategic objectives will guide the implementation of the NACS for the period 2020 to 2024:
- Support citizen empowerment and awareness of their rights and responsibilities relevant to the fight against corruption;
- Enhance the structures for deterrence, detection, adherence and enforcement through improved compliance with anti-corruption and integrity management obligations and mechanisms across sectors;
- Increase public demand for transparency and accountability and rejection of corruption in Government offices, ministries, agencies and State-owned enterprises, public institutions, media houses and the private sector;
- Ensure protection of whistle-blowers and victims of corruption, thereby encouraging active participation in anti-corruption efforts by members of the public;
- Recover assets and proceeds from corruption crimes, and compensate damages inflicted on the State and corruption victims (individuals or institutions); and
- Increased level of political parties’ transparency, political will and accountability.
Each strategic objective has specific objectives and specific actions/interventions. The actions cover the key areas of prevention, criminalisation, law enforcement, asset recovery, collaboration and information exchange.
Some of the actions proposed include the following:
- Continuously organising anti-corruption public debates at national, regional and local levels;
- Introducing anti-corruption education starting from early childhood development to primary, secondary and tertiary education levels;
- Conducting tailor-made periodic training programmes on ethics, integrity and anti-corruption;
- Initiating and carrying out common projects and programmes with an anti-corruption content with non-governmental organisations and civil society actors;
- Incorporating modules on integrity and ethics in formal management development programmes for the public and private sectors;
- Strengthen ZACC’s effectiveness as a preventative anti-corruption entity through sufficient resources to enable it to strengthen its investigation, prevention, educational and research capacity. ZACC should retain a percentage of assets recovered from corruption cases in order to boost its resource base;
- Establish more anti-corruption courts at all court levels; amend court rules to introduce a stipulated period by which corruption cases are dealt with thereby enabling prioritisation of corruption cases;
- Periodic review of public sector systems to ensure that they uphold the principles of good governance;
- Introduction of an integrity pledge for the public sector;
- Continuously improving e-governance, e-administration, e-procurement, e-payment and e-justice solutions as platforms for citizens accessing information in public institutions;
- Requirement for business enterprises who wish to tender for public contracts to demonstrate that they have internal anti-corruption policies in place and that the bidding process is subjected to public scrutiny;
- Strengthening parliamentary and public oversight through audits and follow-up action on findings;
- Conduct an analysis at provincial level, rural district council (RDC) level and local authorities (LAs) throughout the country of corruption-prone organisational policy gaps and develop internal integrity systems;
- Develop proper mechanisms for the transparent and equitable allocation of mining and exploration licences and tourism and other resources rights and/or quotas;
- Assist enterprises in the private sector to develop internal integrity systems, compliance procedures and ethics codes;
- Speed up enactment of whistle-blower legislation and appropriate legislation to recover ill-gotten wealth;
- Build and establish Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) to recover assets, evidence and the accused from abroad. This requires building of working relationships and mutual understanding with foreign authorities through bilateral and multilateral agreements;
- Political leaders taking or signing integrity pledge. President, ministers, MPs, political party leaders and key political figures to take lead in this endeavour.
- All political parties to spell out anti-corruption and accountability policies in their respective party manifestos. These polices must be adhered to. This should form one of the conditions, among others, for political funding from State coffers; and
- Have regulations (e.g. Political Parties Act) which regulate and increase transparency of party funding. Institutionalise a regular check and monitoring system.
We have proposed a robust monitoring and evaluation system for the NACS. The successful implementation and co-ordination of the NACS will be the responsibility of a National Anti-Corruption Strategy Steering Committee (NACSSC). The steering committee will be overseeing the implementation of the NACS under the auspices of ZACC, which will chair and ensure periodic meetings and regular reports to be made available to the public.
The NACSSC shall be the core body responsible for overseeing the implementation of the NACS; establish standing sub-committees and ad hoc committees (where needed) to monitor and oversee the implementation of specific NACS actions; make recommendations and express opinions on policy-making and administrative guidelines; coordinate with public sector agencies, the private sector and civil society; expand activities in accordance with the NACS; develop a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation system with relevant indicators, and to periodically monitor and evaluate progress in the implementation of the NACS according to such system; and compile an annual report to the Office of the President and Cabinet and Parliament on progress with regard to the implementation of the NACS.
The strategy will have in place sub-committees or monitoring groups to oversee each of the six strategic objectives.
The monitoring groups shall consist of heads of the institutions that implement the pillars they monitor.
For example, the monitoring group to oversee the strategic objective to do with enhancing the structures for deterrence, detection, adherence and enforcement through improved compliance with anti-corruption and integrity management obligations and mechanisms across sectors will comprise the following entities: Zimbabwe Republic Police; National Prosecuting Authority; representatives of at most four civil society organisations; and ZACC.
It is important to highlight that strategy implementation effectiveness will depend on the contribution of the civil society and the media.
It is important for civil society actors and the media pillar to directly contribute to the monitoring of the implementation of the action plans by other pillar-institutions, and present alternative reports.
Commissioner John Makamure is the ZACC spokesperson and chairs the committee on prevention, public education and corporate governance. [email protected] ZACC toll -fee line: 08010101; Landline: + 263 242 369602/5/8