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Zimbabwe does not have whistle-blowing legislation

by Staff reporter
16 Sep 2020 at 08:52hrs | Views
Zimbabwe does not have a stand-alone law that sets out guidelines for persons who report incidents of corruption and misconduct, a new report has said. In its report, Platform to Protect Whistle-blowers in Africa (PPLAAF) highlighted that there is no whistle-blowing legislation currently in the statutes in Zimbabwe, much less any protection specifically aimed at guaranteeing the protection of reporters of corruption.
"The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission has limited capabilities to adequately comply with its mandate," says the report, adding that the Commission is primarily being hampered by lack of powers of arrest and prosecution and only investigates incidents of corruption and misconduct. PPLAAF said that ZACC'S capacity is substandard which in turn hampers its efficacy in fulfilling its mandate, adding that the Commission is also severely understaffed and underfunded, and has reporting standards that are not in line with global best practices. According to the report, ZACC's efforts are also undermined by its over-reliance on other agencies like the Zimbabwe Police Force.
"There is no whistle-blower agency... This means that there is a lack of an easily accessible complaints mechanism to coordinate and compile reports which would be properly forwarded to ZACC for investigation. Whilst there appears to be a commitment, in terms of the drafted legislation, to combat the scourge of corruption, there is no proper coordination by the different state agencies with respect to a clear programme of action," said PPLAAF in its report.
In 2019 the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, in a study on the least corrupt nations, Zimbabwe was ranked 158 out of 180 countries, underlining how far it is from global best practices, despite its strong legislation aimed at curbing the rise of corruption and fraud.
The report further opines that the political will to enforce compliance is seen as very weak, adding that Zimbabwe also lack a protection from employer reprisals linked to disclosures of possible corrupt practices and misconduct against employees who report such misconduct, as there is no provision in Zimbabwean law which guarantees the protection of witnesses.
"Section 14 of the Prevention of Corruption Act criminalises the victimisation of persons who provide or disclose information on corrupt practices. Whilst the legislation is comprehensive in laying out its objectives, the execution thereof is often limited by the means of the enforcing agencies of the state. There is no provision in the statute books which provide for the protection of a witness's family, and such protection is limited to the persons who report offences and assist and testify in court cases arising therefrom," the report said.
"There is also no provision in any current legislation that allows for witness relocation and assignment of new identity because the law is silent thereon… and will continue to impact negatively on its efforts to eradicate the culture of fraud and corruption which has become entrenched in many of the country's institutions," added the report.
Meanwhile, last week ZACC launched an anti-corruption whistle-blower mobile application to make it easier for citizens to confidentially report suspected cases of high-level graft in the country.
Speaking at the virtual launch of the application, ZACC chairperson Loice Matanda-Moyo expressed her confidence in the application's ability to assist the public and the organisation in fighting increasing corruption related crimes in Zimbabwe.
"As much as we want the public to report cases of corruption, we as the commission have to ensure that we provide a platform that ensures the non-disclosure of the identity of whistle-blowers and security of the information given," said Matanda-Moyo.
However, former NetOne chief executive, Reward Kangai, said that the application will do nothing to conceal the whistle-blower. Writing on his Twitter microblogging platform, Kangai said, "From what I have seen and experienced over decades, one reports or resists corruption at their own peril, whilst culprits remain gree. The corruption that's killing our country is such that culprits will know who whistle-blower is. An app will do nothing to conceal whistle-blower. Amongst your (ZACC) Commissioners, is one who was booted out of a State Owned Entity for resisting corruption by a former Government Minister! Your App will probably help in low level corruption cases but not on high level ones. The culprits will know the whistle-blower identity!"

Source - finx