Editorial Comment: New ZACC team mustn’t lose focus

Zimbabweans often respond with the expression that “let those involved in corruption rot in jail”, whenever the subject comes up for discussion.

This attitude is a clear indication that people are fed up with corrupt individuals who are costing the country on a daily basis.

In light of the above concern, we find it prudent that Government has appointed a new set of commissioners for the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), sworn-in by President Mnangagwa last week. We reckon the mammoth task that lies ahead of the new commissioners and the high expectations from the public who expect them to perform far much better than their predecessors.

It will definitely be no easy walk for the new commissioners who are confronted with one of the issues that has been allowed to permeate the society’s fabric for a long time. The first test the commissioners need to pass is to resist the temptation of being corrupted themselves.

It follows that after their appointment, those corrupt among us will try to seek favours from them in a bid to ring-fence themselves against possible prosecution. We expect the commissioners to prove that they are honourable enough to uphold the trust put in them by the nation through resisting all such attempts.

The other matter that confronts the new ZACC commissioners are legacy issues emanating from how the anti-corruption body was perceived in the past.

Former ZACC commissioners can testify that the image of the organisation was bad in the eyes of the public who had lost confidence in the anti-corruption fight. Partly to blame was the attitude of the former ZACC commissioners in carrying out their duties which did not inspire confidence.

It is up to the new commissioners to prove that they are different and that they mean business when it comes to fighting graft. There is really nothing that stops ZACC from successfully fighting corruption, considering that there are appropriate laws in place to aid this job.

The anti-corruption body was also recently given powers to effect arrests, making the process more efficient in fighting corruption. The reliance on police alone when it comes to arresting the suspects was obviously cumbersome and sometimes complicated, thereby letting some of the suspects off the hook.

Our advice to the new commission is that they should ensure that dockets for suspected criminals are comprehensively prepared to ensure a high rate of convictions. Investigations should be thoroughly done so that all the evidence is readily available for a successful prosecution.

We notice that some Zimbabweans had started losing faith in the anti-corruption fight because most of those arraigned before the courts ended up being acquitted because of lack of evidence.

There should be one purpose among all those involved in the fight against corruption, including the Special Anti-Corruption Unit in the President’s Office, the National Prosecution Authority, the police, courts and members of the public.

Although we appreciate that corruption cases are often complex since those involved cover up for each other, we believe that a serious approach will unlock most of the cases. This is why we expect ZACC to up its game and always ensure that its operations are above board and timely in detecting such corrupt tendencies.

The new commissioners should be well aware that their seriousness with fighting corruption will eventually act as a deterrent measure.

Coming down hard on perpetrators will lead to those of similar intentions to think hard before indulging in corruption. The new commissioners should be aware that they are carrying out an important task that has a huge bearing on the development of the country.

Corruption impedes economic growth because it affects the business environment. In fact, no foreign investor is interested in bringing funds to a country that is infested with corruption.

This is because corruption often results in a dysfunctional system because there is no accountability.

The results of corruption are generally unbearable as it increases the cost of transactions and brings a feeling of insecurity among citizens. This makes fighting corruption at all levels a major necessity to enable the envisaged economic turnaround and attainment of Vision 2030.

To achieve this, we hope that apart from giving ZACC new teeth in the form of the new commissioners, Government will continue tightening the laws on the anti-corruption fight.

Critical and definite steps now need to be taken against corruption to send the word out there that Zimbabwe does not tolerate the vice, and those involved pay dearly for their actions.

We are aware that corruption is a legacy issue inherited from the previous administration, but we have confidence in the new administration’s stance against the vice. And the appointment of the new commissioners, with diverse skills  and professional backgrounds, signals Government’s intentions to deal with the scourge.