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Magistrate under fire over CCC activists

Opinion

Why anti-corruption bids fail

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IN our front page story of this edition, we report that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption (Zacc) is embroiled in hostilities with police and the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) over investigating corruption cases.

The rebranded Zacc came in 2019 amid noisy pledges to fight corruption without fear or favour. However, police and the NPA have been frustrated and exasperated by Zacc’s inefficiency and incapacity. Above that, lack of political will, low funding and poor investigative skills are mainly sabotaging Zacc’s ability to do its job well.

The problem between the NPA and Zacc exploded in court on Thursday. Zacc came under serious attack from prosecutor Reginald Chaora in Court 15 at Rotten Row Magistrates’ Court in Harare for allegedly frustrating prosecution of corruption cases through undue delays and inexcusable failures to provide dockets and court documents.

Court authorities told The NewsHawks that  Chaora’s negative sentiments against Zacc were widely shared within the police and the NPA, adding he spoke after a meeting of critical staff which included experienced prosecutors and their bosses.

 NPA staffers say dockets from Zacc are usually chaotic, weak and not actionable, thus making it difficult to take legal action and secure convictions.  This comes as police have withdrawn their investigating officers from Zacc, further incapacitating and immobilising the anti-corruption body.

Several high-level corruption cases have been dismissed in court because of lack of evidence or wrong charges being applied. Mainly only those officials who have fallen out with Mnangagwa and his government are prosecuted for political expediency and personal vendettas.

Chaora aired frustration about Zacc’s incompetence during the appearance of Chief Public Prosecutor Clement Chimbare who is being charged with abuse of office and bribery allegations over an illegal sale of stands in Harare’s Kuwadzana suburb in a US$1 million scam Chimbare, who is being represented by lawyers  Givemore Madzoka and Webster Jiti, was arrested in 2020, but is yet to be tried.

The trial has taken too long to commence. This has frustrated police and prosecutors who, behind the scenes, always lambast Zacc as hopeless. The state has been postponing the case due to Zacc’s failure to provide documents needed for prosecution.

Based on our story, as well as the con[1]text and empirical studies, there are various underlying factors why anti-corruption initiatives fail. Researchers have been trying to understand why that is, and what might be done about it.  Anti-corruption initiatives fail because of over-large design-reality gaps; that is, too great a mismatch between expectations built into their design as compared to on[1]the-ground realities in the context of their deployment. 

How and why anti-corruption campaigners, Zacc commissioners in this case, are appointed, deployed and operate usually determines the success or failure of their combat.  Successful anti-corruption campaigns find ways to minimise or close these gaps.

Unsuccessful initiatives do not. Effective design and implementation processes en[1]able gap closure and improve the prospects of success. But, beyond enablers, it is the politics of the situation that determines the drivers to anti-corruption success. 

 However, some claim failure of anti-corruption initiatives is often seen as by and large the result of an implementation problem. But then the real problem would have often begun well before implementation; embedded in design of these initiatives. 

 Lack of political will, knowledge and ideas, skills and techniques, and technologies and tools are mostly at the heart of anti-corruption campaign failures around the world. Anti-corruption law enforcement in Zimbabwe faces multiple challenges, ranging from a lack of political, resources to the difficulty of producing evidence that holds up in court. 

In other words, if anti-corruption com[1]missions don’t have independence – are compromised or partisan – they cannot be able to fulfil their mandates. Those in power often intervene in anti-corruption agencies’ investigations to thwart prospects of success and allow their cronies to get away with murder. 

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