Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Zimbabwe: Unmasking the Myth of Corruption

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How does he gracefully neutralise key allies, relatives and comrades who fuel the capture of these institutions?

The other critical question for Mnangagwa will be: if you remove the rotten eggs, who do you replace them with and by which date? 2023 is around the corner. Will this be strategically wise? The danger is that the rotten eggs will coalesce and remove him.

The bigwigs relegated to “Shake Shake building” (Zanu PF headquarters) are a restless lot. They have nothing to do. Rumour has it they have been holding meetings masterminding spanners in the works.

Is Zacc the solution?

Zacc will never give us the way forward. We need a policy on criminal prosecutions to prevent selective application of anti-corruption legislation. What sort of policy? Either we use timeframes: 2000 to 2005; 2006 to 2010; 2011 to 2017; 2018 onwards.

Or perhaps we can use estimated monetary value of the prejudice to the taxpayer: $100 000 and less; $500 000 and less; $1 million and less; $5 million; $10 million and so on. Let’s start with those who corruptly acquired assets after the new dispensation and move downwards, or vice versa.

Or we can use a third way. A reconciliatory way which acknowledges that this scourge arose through attempted sanctions busting. This approach acknowledges that most state institutions were roped into off-book practices to bust sanctions.

Which in essence is truthful in that it acknowledges that most people participated either directly or indirectly in corrupt practices. Or we tell them to simply surrender two thirds of corruptly acquired property or cash by a set time and get immunity from prosecution.

Mnangagwa tried this with his list of naming and shaming. He did not succeed. He tried getting civil servants to declare their interests in business ventures. He did not succeed.

So, maybe an amnesty? Immunity from prosecution? Carrot and stick. If there are no sacred cows, all Zacc has to do is check from number one downwards what assets or bank balances everyone has. Then serve them with High Court orders to explain how they acquired such wealth, and if they fail they lose the assets.

Money Laundering Bill (2019)

The Bill proposed by government giving Zacc, Zimra and the police powers to seek explanation from those who flaunt wealth without the means of acquiring it is a welcome development in the right direction.

However, I argue that more needs to be done. The legislation must be used to recover and repatriate assets acquired through abuse of taxpayers’ money instead of merely arresting accused persons for alleged corruption.

Throwing them behind bars is merely a burden on the taxpayer in our already overcrowded prisons. We can forfeit such unexplained wealth to the state. Put it back in our coffers, hopefully pay our debts and grow our economy.

International norms of criminal justice and jurisprudence are moving away from retributive justice. Justice is now rehabilitative.

Political and electoral reforms

Anti-riot police officers beat up a floored Mashumba (62) at the Harare Magistrates court last week.

On political and electoral reforms, the harsh reality is that the party with the majority in parliament will push those reforms that benefit their policies and support their government. That is democracy, the tyranny of the majority.

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