Bribery: A Cancer Eating Away at Society
1 July 2023
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By Noxolo Ndazi | Bribery is a social vice that has been around for centuries. It is an act of giving or receiving something of value in exchange for influence or action in return. It is an unethical practice that undermines the rule of law and the principles of fairness and justice. Bribery is a cancer eating away at society, and it has far-reaching consequences that affect everyone.

One area where bribery is rampant is in the real estate industry. Land is a valuable asset, and its acquisition can be a highly profitable venture. However, the process of acquiring land is often riddled with corruption, and bribery is a common tool used to facilitate the process. This was the case for a group of women who bought land together but were shortchanged in the transaction due to bribery.

The women had formed a group to buy land together, under the umbrella of Qoki Women Dreamers. However, because this group was not registered as a company, the group leader ended up using her company, Qoki Zindlovukazi Ltd, as a special purchase vehicle unbeknownst to the group members. This meant that the land technically belonged to the group leader and her co-directors, and the other women did not have a binding contract with the company. As a result, they were shortchanged in the transaction, and sadly the land was not rightfully theirs. This was not the only hurdle.

Another concern was the inflated charges, bribery for subdivision permits and questionable authenticity of pivotal documents such as, agreement of sale and title deeds. The process of obtaining subdivision permits for the land would have been challenging due to its classification as stateland. The land had been gazetted by the government under the land acquisition act, which meant that it could not be sold or subdivided. However, the group leader and her directors used bribery to bypass this process and obtain the permits illegally as confessed by the group founder, Ms Sithule Tshuma on a recorded call (audio has been circulating around). It is a shame that the lady who recorded the call has been victimised, The paradigm has been shifted. Instead of focusing on the illegal act, the focus is now strangely on the recorder? One wonders if these women are within their right frame of mind? How can the focus be on the trivial, least of the thorny issue? This is beyond the writer’s comprehension or any sensible person. It is unfathomable, as common sense would have it, that act falls within the specifications of what constitutes a bribe according to Zimbabwean law which states that;

‘ Section 170 of the Criminal Code provides that bribery occurs when an agent obtains or gives any gift or consideration as an inducement or reward for doing or omitting to do any act in relation to their principal’s affairs, whilst knowing that there a real risk or possibility that such gift or consideration is not due in terms of any agreement or arrangement between the agent and the principal, (Qoki in this case)’.

Bribery has far-reaching consequences that affect everyone. It undermines the rule of law and the principles of fairness and justice. It also perpetuates inequality and poverty by creating an uneven playing field where only those with money and power can succeed. Bribery also erodes trust in institutions and undermines democracy, as people lose faith in their leaders and the systems that govern them. The governing legal framework for bribery in Zimbabwe consists of the following;

● The Prevention of Corruption Act [Chapter 9:16]
● The Anti-Corruption CommissionAct [Chapter 9:22]; and
● The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23] (theCriminal Code)

All of the above legal statutes are applied and read with the following international instruments to which Zimbabwe is a party to:

● The UN Convention against Corruption (2004)
● The African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (2003)
● The SADC Protocol Against Corruption (2001)

To combat bribery, there needs to be a concerted effort by all stakeholders. Governments need to strengthen their laws and institutions to prevent and punish bribery. Citizens also need to be vigilant and report cases of bribery to the authorities. The media also has a role to play in exposing cases of bribery and holding those responsible accountable.

In conclusion, bribery is a cancer eating away at society. It undermines the rule of law and perpetuates inequality and poverty. The case of the group of women who were shortchanged in a land transaction due to bribery is just one example of the far-reaching consequences of this unethical practice. To combat bribery, there needs to be a concerted effort by all stakeholders to strengthen laws and institutions, be vigilant, and hold those responsible accountable.