Transparency International Zimbabwe (TI-Z) is deeply concerned by the recent happenings as chronicled in media reports in which the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) officers are reportedly being victimised for trying to expose alleged corrupt deals at various government departments and agencies.
Sunday Opinion by Transparency International Zimbabwe
While there is merit in the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) investigating alleged corruption within the anti-corruption body, the ZRP should deal with the individuals implicated and not seek to discredit the legitimacy of the body.
The ZRP should not interfere with Zacc’s mandate of fighting corruption as recommended in the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and articulated in section 108 A of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Likewise, the ZRP continues to carry out its constitutional mandate despite numerous allegations of corruption within the police force. Corrupt individuals must be weeded out of all state institutions but the institutions must be afforded an opportunity to exercise their mandate to the legitimate expectation of the society they serve.
This requires that they be unfettered in the execution of their duties. As such, the ZRP is encouraged to deal with implicated individuals and not to interfere with the Zacc’s mandate as an institution in state machinery of law enforcement for the elimination of corruption in the country.
The ZRP has, in the past, been accused of bias especially in instances where investigations involve high ranking government officials.
The police should not selectively investigate issues that involve, among other people, prominent individuals in society. Such actions show high levels of impartiality and impunity on a few public officials.
The police force should be guided by principles of professionalism; they must be independent and impartial in the discharge of duties so that their actions are not misinterpreted for protecting a few individuals in society.
TI-Z once again raises concern over the politicisation of the fight against corruption.
Perceptions that there are political agendas or expediency being served by current events as detailed in the press cannot be overruled. Unfortunately, these events discredit and bring to question not just the legitimacy of the Zacc but also the police as arresting officers, the courts as the issuers of the search and arrest warrants.
Together these institutions represent the state’s law enforcement mandate. This mandate appears to be subverted to other more dominant interests that have nothing to do with upholding the rule of law and fighting impunity.
The legitimacy of law enforcement agencies can only be re-established when the impunity of public officials and political leaders cannot be protected for political expediency. Whether some officers of Zacc are guilty of corruption is not the test for its capacity or legitimacy to interrogate the three implicated ministers. These are two divorced issues that should be treated as such. One does not undercut the other. If this was the criteria, it would also discredit the police’s legitimacy and capacity to investigate Zacc because its own officers and office have similarly been levelled with allegations of corruption on many occasions.
It is the position of TI-Z that more attention must be paid by the current coalition government and future government on guaranteeing the independence of these institutions and releasing them from political subservience so that they are not used as pawns for political vendettas.
No reforms to the Zacc, police or judiciary are possible within the ambit of heavy-handed political directives muddying the issues.
The legitimate expectation of Zimbabwean citizens is that those agencies mandated with enforcing and upholding the rule of law should execute their duties with the full support and cooperation of the Executive and Parliament.
In this instance, if the allegations levelled against the three ministers have a legitimate source, they must be investigated and if found to be true, the law must take its course.
Similarly with regards to the allegations made against Zacc. Saying “No to Impunity” implies that there are no “sacred cows” in carrying out investigations; the probe should go beyond one’s political or social status.
Punitive action should be taken against perpetrators of corruption not as a political end but to guarantee the freedoms and entitlements of all Zimbabweans. The Executive and Parliament owe it to the people of Zimbabwe to enforce and oversee transparent and accountable rules of Government which also entail respecting Institutions created by Constitutional Decree such as the Zacc.