The statement of the Transparency International Chairperson Huguette Labelle, contained in the press release by TI global Secretariat of 23 September 2008 (see TI website: www.transprency.org) calling the rising levels of corruption in low – income countries ‘an ongoing humanitarian disaster’ echoes TI Zimbabwe’s own sentiments and qualifies its approach to the fight against corruption in Zimbabwe, which from 2006 has taken a more keen interest in the humanitarian consequences of corruption by looking at social and public service delivery in local government.
With growing concern, TI Zimbabwe has watched the meagre resources and services provided to the poor further strangled by bourgeoning corruption that has tainted the complexion of everything and everyone fair in this country. The governance framework that is characterised by weak institutions, specifically parliament and judiciary, and in the face of draconian laws and self-serving policies, has resulted in selective and haphazard approaches in addressing corruption. Subsequently, this has contributed to the weakening of institutions of governance necessary for the curtailing of corruption. The lack of political will to comprehensively approach the fight against corruption in a transparent and effective manner, demonstrated by the failure to give oversight and leadership with integrity and accountability, has allowed corruption to permeate all spheres of human life so that the whole society is criminalized. There is no longer a distinction between petty and grand corruption; the arrogance of corruptors and corruptees and the skewed policies, force ordinary citizens between a rock and a hard place in order to survive the increasingly unrelenting social, economic and political environment.
At this point of the release of the 2008 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of 2008 the future seems exceedingly bleak. TI-Zimbabwe places the welfare and equitable development of the masses at the heart of the agreement between the three parties, ZANU PF and the two MDC formations, and calls on them to demonstrate the necessary political will, integrity and accountability by holding this deal together in order to realise the hopes that people have placed on the power sharing agreement. They must put to an end all the suffering caused by the misgovernance and the politicisation, along partisan lines, of institutions of governance that has fuelled corruption from top to bottom, and may yet be the final nail on the coffin of a dying nation.
Zimbabwe scored 1,8 on the 2008 CPI and the country was ranked 166 out of 180 countries surveyed. There is clear evidence that as the political, economic and social crisis has deepened, so has the corruption. Statistically, Zimbabwe’s score has slipped by about a 62% from 2.9 in 2001 to 1.8 in 2008. This evidence points to a direct correlation between the crisis in governance and the rise of corruption. The CPI score measures the degree of public sector corruption as perceived by experts and business people and country analysts (See the TI website www.transaprency.org). While TI Z is cognizant of the negative impact the sanctions have had on the economic and social planning, the political leadership cannot abrogate their responsibility to be custodians, protectors and promoters of values and practices that prevent the perpetuation of corruption and bad governance.
With regard to anticipated investments in the wake of the power sharing agreement it is noted that the press statement makes reference to the findings of Prof Johann Graff Lambsdorff of the University of Passau, commissioned by TI global to carry out the CPI, that imply that it is in the best interest of low income states such as Zimbabwe to fight corruption and improve the way investors perceive doing business in their countries. The findings state ‘there is evidence to suggest that the improvement in the CPI by one point [on a 10 point scale] increases capital inflows by 0.5% of a country’s gross domestic product and averages incomes by as much as 4%’ (www.transparency.org).
The TI global Chairperson Huguette Labelle in the press release, further makes the point that high corruption levels in poor countries can mean the difference between life and death, an issue already explored by TI Zimbabwe in a study conducted between 2006- 2007 that looked at corruption in public service delivery in the health sector with a specific focus on HIV/AIDS. The devastating effects of corruption on the vulnerable in our society should be the driving factor in strengthening the national strategies against corruption whose flagship is the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) as supported by the Ministry of Anti Corruption. Specifically this can be done by making the ACC independent, strengthening the oversight role of Parliament and offices of the Auditor General and Ombudsmen by making them more responsive and transparent to the public, as well as opening up the space for civil society to play an effective watchdog role.
TI Zimbabwe notes with regret the early signs of a continuing culture of lack of integrity and accountability from some quarters of the leadership who are signatories to the power sharing agreement. Asset stripping must stop forthwith. Egos and partisan interests before those of the nation are delaying the formation of a government and the implementation of the issues raised in the agreement. The nation is geared for a period of transition and the reform of critical governance institutions is critical to boosting social and economic development for the betterment of the people’s livelihoods. The leadership must be held accountable to deliver the promised Amendment No.19 that will usher in a new dispensation. The new dispensation must be open enough to allow civil society to operate freely and play its role of watchdog alongside the media and other public oversight institutions. Civil society must continue, without fear or favour, to execute their mandate. Their role is more critical now than ever before. TI Zimbabwe calls on all Zimbabweans to demand the prioritization of institutional reform, the end of corruption and misgovernance in Zimbabwe as we all look forward to a future of participatory democracy and negotiated engagement between state and non-state actors in shaping the future of Zimbabwe.
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