European Union (EU) Ambassador Timo Olkkonen yesterday told President Emmerson Mnangagwa that his administration should walk the talk on corruption and show seriousness in bringing perpetrators to book.
The EU is funding a €14 million Anti-Corruption Awareness Campaign program which will run for 15 months and will be administered by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
Olkkonen told delegates at the launch that although there have been positive steps from Mnangagwa in the fight against the scourge, there is still need to back up the words with the right action of bringing those fingered before the courts.
“Perpetrators should not go scot-free, due process of the law should be followed, ZACC’s independence should be respected and it should be adequately resourced, the court system should be transparent on statistics and outcomes of corruption cases.
“Your words since your election, your Excellency have been of hope, of rebuilding and unity, this has raised great expectations amongst Zimbabweans and these require great fearless actions in pursuit of justice in order to meet the people’s expectations,” he said.
Olkkonen said if the President’s words are to be matched, Zimbabwe needs a radical, merciless and blind justice system in fighting corruption.
“The EU stands ready to support this and as mentioned above is supporting better justice delivery,” he noted.
The Mnangagwa administration has been accused of shielding the real corrupt culprits while using less powerful people as scapegoats.
Ironically, during Olkonnen’s address, news filtered in that former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko had been granted a poultry ZWL$1000 bail after he was arraigned before the courts for various corruption-related activities during his time as a joint second most powerful person in the land.
“With the level of corruption in Zimbabwe, perhaps the rate of convictions may still be on the low side. I have come across a term as I meet with Zimbabweans online and offline, called ‘catch and release’ meaning that no one is held to account; it is just an insincere anti-corruption fight,” Olkkonen further stated.
He said for as long as there is a bad public perception on Zimbabwe regarding corruption, the citizens will not have confidence in the government and public institutions
“Corruption is a discrete crime and for as long as there is no confidence in the government’s sincerity in fighting corruption which can only be demonstrated by applying the law fairly, impartially and diligently without fear or favour, without political bias, without consideration of economic or social status, the battle against corruption will be lost,” noted.
Mnangagwa, however, said his government is committed to fighting corruption as he gave arresting powers to ZACC.
“I have given arresting power to ZACC as I said earlier, I gave them crocodile teeth to bite anyone sucked in corruption,” he said.
ZACC Chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo said her commission has taken a serious stance against corruption and is fully committed to seeing the eradication of the vice.
“However, this fight is not the preserve of the Commission alone but is inclusive,” she noted.
Although numerous arrests have been made, there has not been one conviction related to corruption.
Former cabinet minister, Prisca Mupfumira is currently in remand after she was arrested on allegations of abusing over US$95 million from the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) among other allegations.
Mphoko is the latest public figure to be brought to court on corruption charges but his instant release has further put questions over Mnangagwa’s sincerity in fighting corruption.