ZAAC Receiving Unfair Criticism Despite Excellent Record: Mavaza
31 December 2021
Spread the love

By Dr Masimba Mavaza | The year has come to an end again and nature pushes us into another year. Years come and go and over the years it is increasingly being recognised that corruption is a costly diversion of resources from their proper use, a major threat to human rights, a significant distortion of competition as well as a driving motive for gross inefficiencies in both the public and private sector.

Furthermore, corruption perpetuates other crimes such as money laundering, drug trafficking and financing of terrorism. Simultaneously, a number of anti-corruption commissions have emerged worldwide, often in a context of corruption scandals accompanied by a plethora of corruption measures which are geared towards achieving state’s compliance with standards set by regional and international conventions.

Dr Masimba Mavaza

Consistent and compelling demands for more effective actions against the scourge, have triggered the conception of more sophisticated measures of corruption, during the last three decades. Thus, exerting some degree of influence on various actors worldwide to look for credible indicators of corruption as reasonable benchmarks in the development and implementation of relevant national anti-corruption strategies and policies.

Zimbabwe looks to the overseer called (ZAAC)Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission. The nation has not understood how ZAAC works. ZAAC is a body which investigates and arrests suspects in corruption cases. Those arrested by ZAAC are not corrupt but they are suspected to be corrupt. This means when they go to trial they may be convicted or indeed acquitted. There are indicators which assists ZAAC in investigations. Understanding those indicators is a prerequisite towards determining reasons why achievements fell short, establish ways and means of strengthening anti-corruption efforts, render the outcomes more impactful and visible and consequently meet expectations of the general public and the international community.
The anti‐corruption successes of ZAAC is not seen in the number of convictions. ZAAC does not judge neither does it prosecute it only arrests. The presence of ZAAC has encouraged the establishment of strong, centralized anti‐corruption agencies in companies and government departments across the country. We must realise that there is no criteria for assessing and explaining ZAAC’s performance. We must establish the minimum political, legal, and socio‐economic conditions for effective governance. When these conditions are in place, success is possible.

ZAAC has long been a principal strategy to fight corruption in Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, it is seen as not have produced evident results and it is seen as being rather ineffective. ZAAC’s success can not be substantiated neither can it be explained.

We must investigate the operational achievements of the Commission and the obstacles to achieving the mandate it has. The result of the textual evidence reveals the apparent successes in the investigation, prosecution and conviction of corrupt offences in Zimbabwe. However, the context in which the agency exists remains its major obstacle, especially the legal system, government commitment and management issues.ZAAC is the real Panacea or real medicine to fight corruption.

Over the past decade, corruption has been identified as a costly diversion of scarce resources and an impediment to development effectiveness. Most people note that corruption is a symptom of deeper problems in how a political leadership administers the key financial functions of state. Accordingly, a range of policies have been identified to improve public administration including reforms of public expenditure management, procurement procedures, auditing functions, and rules governing conflicts of interest. One striking development of anti-corruption commissions has been the adoption by numerous governments despite a mounting body of evidence they fail to reduce corruption. What drives policymakers to invest a portion of scarce resources in a commission that has such a doubtful impact? Why would national leaders squander their credibility with domestic constituents and international investors and donors to create an expensive agency that is likely to fail? In short, why would policymakers adopt a set of institutions that have worked in another country and allocate scarce revenues to establish a commission that consumes resources and undermines the credibility of their commitment to reform? The answer is that the Commission score a lot of success which is not easily seen. By its existence many people are discouraged from committing crimes. By its existence ZAAC is a prohibitive agent which has put many would be corrupt people under strict check. This alone saves the country billions of dollars the fact that the saved cash is not liquid it makes people think that ZAAC has not performed as expected.

So we need to understand What is the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission?

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) is an independent commission created to combat corruption and crime. It is established in terms of Chapter 13, Part 1 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Its core reason of existence is to Combat corruption.
The problem Zimbabweans have is they have added the word conviction in the purpose of the existence of ZAAC.

Conviction is not part of what ZAAC is for. ZAAC investigates arrests and refer to prosecution for prosecuting.

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission was established on the 8th of September 2005 when His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe swore in the first commissioners.

The establishment of ZACC is conducted in accordance to the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the Anti-Corruption Commission Act which outline ZACC’s powers, functions and objectives.

Corruption is a multidimensional problem that has been pervasive through history. Attempts to fight corruption must likewise be multidirectional. The institutions that have been designed in different societies for this purpose include formal laws, special agencies, community organizations, and combinations; their record of success is varied.

Corruption at all levels has become an everyday reality in Zimbabwe with dire consequences for both the country and government leading to perpetration of social inequality. the existing legislation and anti-corruption agencies have been unable to curb the phenomenon efficiently.

One of the key reasons for this failure has been the modus operandi of the anti-corruption agency which throughout the years have faced serious changes (political, legal, administrative and organisational) in their fight against a multi-facet, complicated, and multi-layered reality. the state bureaucracy apparatus, has over the years, faced both grand and petty corruption in both the public and private sector domains, whereby the competition for irregular thirst for wealth accumulation has reached unprecedented levels. The anti-corruption agency then has to deal with a multiplicity of corruption diversions and dimensions in their efforts to detect, dissect, investigate and refer for prosecution.

ZAAC Recognises that the fight against corruption and money laundering is increasingly becoming a challenge because of the complex, evolving and transnational nature of these crimes.

Realising that the methods and techniques used by criminals are becoming more and more innovative and sophisticated, hence posing challenges to efforts of law enforcement authorities and intelligence agencies.

Acknowledging that although countries have ratified an array of regional and international conventions and treaties to fight financial crimes and promulgated various national legislations, effectiveness in the fight and of Anti- Corruption Agencies remains a critical issue there are still Zimbabwean properties abroad looted through the evil highway of corruption. ZAAC will do more if they are given prosecution powers.

Corruption is one of the most serious obstacles to development. It is endemic in many African countries and is being blamed increasingly for weak economic growth, high socio-economic inequalities and poverty. Zimbabwe, over the years, has experienced a surge in the level of corruption, The country has taken measures to try and curb corruption. At the centre of Zimbabwe’s anti-corruption efforts is the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC). Its primary function is to combat corruption in the private and public sectors. It makes recommendations to the government and the private sector about increasing accountability, promoting integrity and preventing improprieties.

It was established in terms of Chapter 13, Part 1 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Anti- Corruption Commission Act of 2004. In addition to constitutional provisions that promote the fight against corruption, Zimbabwe is a signatory to many regional and international anti-corruption instruments. These include the Southern African Development Community Protocol against Corruption (SADC Protocol), which was signed in 2001 and ratified in 2003; the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AU Convention), signed in 2003 and ratified in 2006; and the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) of 2005, ratified in 2007.
So it is unfair and disheartening that people do not see the achievements of ZAAC. As a country we will do better if we rally behind ZAAC instead of taking turns to castigate it.

But will it be fair to give ZAAC the prosecuting powers. Already in some instances ZAAC investigators have been accused of being a law unto themselves. Their investigators are rude have no respect of those they are investigating. They actually qualify to be terrorists.

They have a strong inclination of abusing power. What will happen should they have the powers of prosecuting as well. It will become an issue of giving a lunatic a whistle.
In the interest of due process ZAAC should not be given prosecuting powers at this stage until their investigator stop being weapons of settling some grudges in the public service.

Instead of being Anti Corruption agents they become themselves corrupt devils fighting corruption. It becomes the issue of corrupt an investigator to fight corruption.
So giving ZAAC prosecution powers is the scenario of cooperation between the police and prosecutors. This brings the “Effective Administration of the Police and the Prosecution in Criminal Justice.”

There is a possible directions with which the police and prosecutors can work together to improve effectiveness in the investigation and the prosecution while maintaining accountability of the criminal justice system.
the common roles of the police and prosecutors in criminal justice system should be recognised.

The question we should ask ourselves is whether the purpose of the criminal justice system is to realize the rule of law, which is one of the most fundamental conditions for the sustainable development of societies. For this purpose, justice has to be given to those who have broken the law while protecting due process of law. Accordingly, the ZAAC is empowered to conduct investigations to give justice to suspects, whereas prosecutors are empowered to check the investigation conducted by ZAAC and to dispose the case for the prosecution, following the due process of law. In other words, prosecutors are vested with the responsibility of checking the ZAAC investigation against due process of law.

This then means ZAAC must never be given the prosecutorial powers. Our attention must be drawn to the importance of effectiveness. Effectiveness is indeed relevant to the issue of the cooperation between the police ZAAC and prosecutors because of their ever- increasing workload especially in terms of the circumstances.

We must realise that The fight against corruption at the national and international levels is a topic of unabated relevance for Zimbabwe as intolerance of corruption is growing around the world. Corruption has a disproportionate impact on the poor and most vulnerable, increasing costs and reducing access to services, including health, education and justice. Corruption in the procurement of drugs and medical equipment drives up costs and can lead to sub-standard or harmful products.

The human costs of counterfeit drugs and vaccinations on health outcomes and the life-long impacts on children far exceed the financial costs. Unofficial payments for services can have a particularly pernicious effect on poor people.
The poor pay the highest percentage of their income in bribes. It is a fact that the poor may even be preyed upon since they are seen as powerless to complain. Every stolen or misdirected dollar, robs the poor of an equal opportunity in life and prevents governments from investing in their human capital. The prosecutors should work closely with ZAAC to build the best possible case and seek to ensure that the charge reflects the seriousness of the crime against the accused. Where appropriate, the prosecutor will also take into account the likely effect that the type of crime suffered may have on local community.
Considering how complicated corruption is we should rally behind the ZAAC.

On the same breath ZAAC should not strive to get a conviction only. It should aim to combat and leave conviction and prosecution to the experts. The zeal to convict will end up making the convictions and cases personal.

ZAAC must not be measured by the number of convictions. Its mere present is already a deterrent factor.

As we move into the new year we must Applaud ZAAC for the job well done.

[email protected]