Harare – CORRUPTION and mismanagement in the public sector affects Zimbabweans who are already living in dire conditions of poverty, civil society has said.
Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) said this month that information gathered by its Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALCAC) revealed that corrupt activities are denying the most vulnerable citizens access to a better life.
The ALCAC initiative, which receives graft complaints from the public on a daily basis, gathered that people are willing to report corruption, but the information is often suppressed by government agencies implicated, or supposed to combat the vice.
“The sectorial analysis of corruption cases received by ALAC shows that the poor and vulnerable continue bearing the brunt of corruption,” the organisation reported.
“In all 3 TIZ regional offices [in Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare], it has become apparent that it is the low and middle income citizens who are most willing to report corruption.
“ALAC continues to be determined to let these voices be heard.”
TIZ said corruption continued to affect the livelihoods of ordinary people who are short-changed by the shadowy dealings performed by public officials.
“The complaints received continue to implicate senior government officials and security agencies in mines and other mineral related corruption,” TIZ said.
“Through gross abuse of public office for private gain, officials grab mines belonging to ordinary citizens.
“Other complaints received implicate hospital officials in theft of essential drugs from hospital coffers for sale on the black market.
“Anti-retroviral (ARVs) drugs and cotrimoxazole tablets meant to be provided for free to People Living with HIV and/or AIDS are being siphoned out of hospitals by syndicates involving top ranking hospital officials into the black market.
“These pills become available at $60 for a monthly supply in flea markets and in the homes of hospital staff.
“Officials in urban local authorities of Harare, Chitungwiza and Mutare continue manipulating the housing and stands allocation system for their private gain.
“Matters to do with dispossession of land and eviction from communal land are also still coming through to ALAC.
“This has been particularly the case in rural areas where the public alleges that political and traditional leaders are dispossessing them of their land.
“In all instances, the displaced communities do not receive any compensation for the buildings which they would have left behind.”
Also, speaking at a public accountability dialogue series, dubbed ‘Frankly Speaking!’ organised by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) in Harare recently, human rights lawyer, Belindah Chinowawa, said if the public sector operated efficiently it would uplift the poor.
“A well-functioning public sector is critical for development and poverty alleviation,” Chinowawa said.
“It must deliver quality public services that match the needs of its citizens, foster private market-led growth while managing fiscal resources prudently, and be accountable to its citizens for all its actions.
“It is therefore crucial to state at the onset that public money is not the same as private money; therefore the parameters of accountability should be more rigorous and strident.”
Chinowawa said public accountability should be enforced without failure since taxes are compulsory.
She blamed the lack of political neutrality and patronage in the civil service, and results based management, plus bureaucracy for the widespread corruption in the country.
The lawyer said there were inadequate powers given to institutions that should enforce accountability in the public sector.
“Neither the Constitution of Zimbabwe…nor the enabling legislation gives the Auditor General powers to compel Ministers, departments and other public agencies to observe and comply with Treasury instructions.
“The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has no powers of arrest, neither is there a dedicated Anti-Corruption Unit within the police force.
“There is no specific crime of corruption, but that rubric is the offences of Bribery, Corruptly using a false document, corruptly concealing a transaction from a principal, a personal interest in a transaction and Criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.”
Chinowawa suggested, among other recommendations, the need for greater parliamentary oversight in the public sector, and use of access to information laws as supported by the new Constitution by citizens to enforce disclosure of corruption.