By A Correspondent | What do journalists get from exposing Emmerson Mnangagwa’s affair with a married girlfriend he has just promoted to the position of Attorney General?, asks Thelma Gokuda.
Answer: The responsibility for disclosure is not for journalists but Mr Mnangagwa and the just appointed Attorney General as in line with their code of conduct at work.
I. The Necessity of Public Declaration:
1. **Transparency and Accountability:** Public declaration of private relationships within the workplace fosters transparency and accountability. It ensures that no undue favoritism, bias, or unethical conduct occurs due to undisclosed relationships, which could compromise the integrity of public administration.
2. **Conflict of Interest Mitigation:** Declaring romantic relationships is crucial to identifying potential conflicts of interest. When a superior officer is involved romantically with a subordinate, it is essential to assess whether this relationship might influence decision-making, promotions, or assignments unfairly.
3. **Maintaining Public Trust:** The public’s trust in government institutions relies on the perception of fairness and impartiality. Public declaration of relationships helps maintain public trust by demonstrating a commitment to ethical conduct within civil service.
II. Dangers to the Public Good When Love Affairs Are Not Declared:
1. **Nepotism and Favoritism:** Undisclosed romantic relationships can lead to nepotism and favoritism within the workplace, as decisions may be influenced by personal feelings rather than merit. This can erode morale among employees and damage the reputation of public institutions.
2. **Erosion of Meritocracy:** When relationships are not declared, qualified individuals may be overlooked in favor of those in undisclosed relationships, which undermines the principles of meritocracy and equal opportunity.
3. **Legal Liabilities:** Failure to declare relationships may expose both the civil servant and the government to legal liabilities, including allegations of discrimination, harassment, or misconduct, which can result in costly litigation and reputational damage.
4. **Public Perception:** The public may perceive undisclosed relationships as a lack of transparency and ethical standards within the civil service, which can erode confidence in government institutions and democratic processes.
In light of these considerations, it is strongly recommended that civil servants publicly declare their private relationships, especially romantic ones, with their subordinates. This declaration should be made to relevant supervisory authorities or human resources departments, following established policies and guidelines. By doing so, civil servants can uphold the principles of transparency, fairness, and accountability, thereby contributing to the public good and maintaining public trust in government institutions.