BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
CORRUPTION remains a major problem in Zimbabwe despite government pronouncements to fight the rot, a report by the United States has revealed.
According to a 2018 Human Rights Report prepared by the US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, “police frequently arrested citizens for low-level corruption while ignoring reports implicating high-level businesspersons and politicians”.
The country continued to experience both petty and grand corruption, defined respectively by Transparency International Zimbabwe as an “everyday abuse of entrusted power by low- to mid-level public officials” and “an abuse of high-level power by political elites”.
The report also pointed to the fact that government had not enforced its policy requiring public officials to declare their assets and disclose interests in transactions that form part of their public mandate.
“In February, President Emmerson Mnangagwa ordered a mandatory declaration of assets by senior officials. Arrests of senior government officials followed; however, most were Mnangagwa’s political opponents or supporters of former First Lady Grace Mugabe’s Generation 40 (G-40) faction,” the report read.
“In May, Mnangagwa created an anti-corruption body within the Office of the President to carry out investigations, by-passing the constitutionally-mandated Zimbabwe Anti-corruption Commission. The administration has since recorded one conviction related to corruption while most of those arrested were released on relaxed bail conditions.”
In terms of payrolls, the report found that despite plans to remove unqualified persons, they still remained on the Public Service Commission, with the majority serving as youth and gender officers in various ministries and other public entities.
“According to the most recent audit, illicit salary payments were made to large numbers of persons who were retired, deceased, or otherwise absent from their place of employment. Duplicate personally identifiable information in files indicated some persons received multiple salaries.”
In 2018, Zimbabwe dropped three places to rank 160 out of 180 on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.
The report also revealed that the redistribution of expropriated white-owned commercial farms often favoured the Zanu PF elite and continued to lack transparency.
“High-level Zanu PF officials selected numerous farms and registered them in the names of family members to evade the government’s policy of one farm per official. The government continued to allow individuals aligned with top officials to seize land not designated for acquisition,” the report added.
“The government began the mandated comprehensive land audit in October to reflect land ownership accurately. Land owners connected to Zanu PF routinely sold land to citizens but refused to transfer ownership officially or to develop the land as agreed upon in contracts.”
A separate Global Financial Integrity report states that the country lost an estimated US$12 billion to corruption involving smuggling and illicit financial outflows between 1980 and 2010.