By Fidelis Munyoro
Those convicted of corruption will have their wealth and assets forfeited to the State as part of restitution for their criminal deeds, President Mnangagwa has said. He said his administration will rapidly and more effectively respond to legitimate concerns of the general public with regard to tackling corruption head-on by holding the corrupt fully accountable for their misdeeds.
The President said this in a speech read on his behalf by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo at a two-day Fraud and Corruption Conference, which opened in Harare yesterday.
“In parallel with such restitution must, of course, come retribution,” he said.
“Those found guilty of such corruption must be sanctioned where they can reflect upon the consequences of their greed and the shame and misfortune that that greed has brought upon themselves and their families.”
President Mnangagwa said Government has made progress in strengthening existing legislation and introducing extra laws to boost the Second Republic’s anti-corruption drive.
Some of the significant amendments that have been made to tighten up mandatory reporting and oversight requirements feature in a number of laws such as the Public Finance Management; Insolvency; Audit; Public Entities Corporate Governance; Companies; Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets; and Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Acts among others.
The Government is also working on a Whistleblower’s Act to encourage and protect those who see evil being done and wish to stop it.
President Mnangagwa said Government is in the final stages of appointing commissioners to the Anti-Corruption Commission and strengthening the Office of the Prosecutor-General.
Government, he said, is also building capacity in key oversight agencies such as the Auditor-General’s, Accountant-General’s and Attorney-General’s offices.
“We are seeking assistance from international partners to build investigative capacity within key components of our law-enforcement agencies, those tasked with investigating and building solid evidence-based cases against the corrupt; cases which will hold up in court and lead to conviction and, where the court so-decides, incarceration and the forfeiture of assets,” he said.
The President said the fight against corruption was not one that Government can wage alone urging the participants to play their role and work towards a Plan of Action, identifying roles and responsibilities for the various sectors represented at the conference.
“Government and yourselves collectively, can intensify our common battle against the evil of corruption,” he said “Together, we can and must make a difference.”
President Mnangagwa said from the onset, the Second Republic’s moto has been ‘Zero Tolerance to Corruption,’ but progress has been slow.
He attributed the slow progress to resistance the State is facing which has tended to impede headway and undermine Government’s good intentions.
“That, in turn, is a reflection of how deep the rot has reached, how the beneficiaries of that rot are able to manoeuvre and manipulate the system to their advantage, to keep ahead of law enforcement, weaken the justice system and, in so doing, to continue their nefarious activities, cheating the Government and the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.
“The slow pace of progress is also a reflection to some extent, of the level of sophistication and complexity which the corrupt amongst us have brought to bear, so as to mask their crimes, cover their tracks and confound our law enforcement officials.”
President Mnangagwa said corruption should be totally eradicated because it undermines Government efforts on economic reform and progress towards the national vision of a middle-income economy by 2030.
“Just as importantly, the scourge of fraud, the theft of public funds and the seeming impotence of our law-enforcement agencies and the justice system more broadly to effectively stop such practices serves to further erode public trust and confidence in Government and its institutions,” he said.
President Mnagagwa, however, hailed the conference saying its focus on fraud was not only welcome, but timely in that it coincided neatly with the enhanced efforts Government was making in the fight against corruption.
The participants were drawn from all stakeholders representing both public and private sectors, academia, civil society, the media, law enforcement agencies and the legal fraternity.
The objective of the conference is creating greater awareness and a deeper understanding of fraud in all its sinister forms and to appreciate the negative impact it has on the national economy.
Source : The Herald