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Kasukuwere and Chombo will not be convicted, this is why?

05 Nov 2018 at 20:13hrs | Views
You often hear about politicians facing public corruption charges in the news. Public corruption refers to any time of instance in which a government official abuses their position of power or public trust for personal gain. Bribery, fraud, misuse of government funds and failure to disclose a conflict of interest are common examples of this crime. The buzz all over the media is corruption, corruption, corruption.

Understandably corruption has changed Zimbabwe. Over several decades, our values have been eroded; everyone believes money can buy a contract, an appointment, a university admission, a degree, in fact an entire lifestyle. In Zimbabwe one has to pay three thousand US dollars to get a nursing training course and Three thousand dollars to get employed. One has to pay three thousand dollars to get police training and pay more to be posted in better areas. The poor souls are told that the minister needs his cut and there is money changing hands every day in Zimbabwe. No one is actively taking action.

 Undoubtedly everyone agrees that the most harmful consequence of endemic corruption in Zimbabwe is the apathy that engenders the culture of acceptance. Over many years of seeing corruption in almost every facet of government, many of us begin to simply accept corruption as the status quo. We come to assume government is dysfunctional and ineffective and destined to operate corruptly. The consequences of this culture of acceptance in Zimbabwe are many. Most citizens simply disengage from the political process and no longer trust the government to function well or in their interest. Others may come to believe they must engage in corruption in order to gain government benefits themselves. Still others will begin to look the other way when they witness corrupt transactions.

Honest citizens are discouraged from going into politics or suffer from apathy, as a result of the distaste corrupt practices have generated. Most importantly lives are lost and life's most important ingredient for survival and success; hope, is lost. The current government has a tough job on its hands because proving corruption is not as easy as it is to pronounce. First of all you have to detect that a corrupt act has occurred. Courts are not keen to give decisions in corruption cases. Every corrupt official in Zimbabwe is connected to the top, no matter how he has fallen out with those at the top there is a intertwined collusion unseen and complicated. The heavily corrupt are protected and they walk like demi gods waving starches of cash. Some corrupt ones are close friends of the children of the powers that be and they cannot be touched. A decision is made every day to stay prosecutions or literally delay prosecutions of the children of the bosses and Shefus. People belong to the party for protection and our dear country is reduced to a Mafia type of administration.

Decisions are made on political grounds and not on legal basis. That decision had its roots in another failed corruption case against a prominent politician; this has made it manifestly more difficult for prosecutors to prove political corruption. There is a serious interference by both the current politicians and the money power by the former politicians. Corruption goes beyond its ambits and it's a cancer which eats the immune system.

One must bear in mind that most corrupt senior officials who are no longer in power have friends in most high places; they will not be prosecuted in anyway. They oil their machine with cash and poverty makes it acceptable to receive the tempting wards of cash. How could actions that look so corrupt not be a crime?

The answer lies with the Court's increasingly narrow definition of public corruption, including the crimes of bribery and extortion. The introduction of the Corruption Act and the Abuse of office has amended the power to convict.

Political systems run by money Our election system revolves around campaign contributions, both in primaries and increasingly at the local and national level. And politicians doing favours for donors are not new. "Money is constantly being solicited on behalf of candidates, who run on platforms and who claim support on the basis of their views and what they intend to do or have done. Whatever ethical considerations and appearances may indicate, to hold that legislators commit the crime of extortion when they act for the benefit of constituents or support legislation furthering the interests of some of their constituents, shortly before or after campaign contributions are solicited and received from those beneficiaries, is an unrealistic assessment of what government could have meant by making it a crime…" Those who provided fuel and funds for the campaign have an automatic immunity to prosecution and those who are friendly to them have created a (durawall) precast wall around the courts.

Prosecuting a political corruption case is difficult and this is not in Zimbabwe alone but the whole world over.

But the power of money to get donors political access and influence has expanded with the whittling away of corruption laws. This is because of the system we use to finance candidates Supreme Court's erosion of limits on many kinds of campaign contributions, our current means of financing campaigns has devolved into a form of legalized bribery. Donors pour money into races to get officials who will support their favoured goals. Those who emerged victors strive hard to protect their friends who are corrupt but sponsored them during elections.

When the officials deliver, the money keeps rolling in. The decisions on corruption have demonstrated little concern about the corrosive effect of the decisions on the public's faith in their government. "The appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy, but it causes democracy to be evaporated into thin air. In looking closely into corruption cases one will notice that the head is tainted. This brings fear and no prosecutor will want to deal with a matter which sucks in the head.

According to a fundamental democratic tenet, everyone is equal under the law. This noble principle, however, does not do much to help police or prosecutors act effectively when corruption suspects are wealthy businessmen or prominent politicians. The success rate of prosecutions against senior government officials and corporate executive officers in major multinational enterprises is still low. This is true throughout the world and even in countries that have enacted comprehensive anticorruption legislation and have otherwise well-functioning institutions at their disposal. The lack of success in this very sector is due to an institutional framework that is often unsuitable for coping with the specific complexity of the crimes, the need to find a balance between the defendant's rights and prosecution, the impact of public interest, and the institutional and psychological pressures these entail.

Over the last decade, societies have realized to what extent corruption has damaged their welfare and stability. Governments, the private sector, and civil society alike have consequently declared the fight against bribery and corruption a priority in their overall endeavour and politics. But the Zimbabwean situation is gripped in a politics of thank you and people are being rewarded for the support they gave the politicians during the years they were finding their heads.

The detection rate is often low because of the lack of verifiable information that is received from public servants or other citizens. Particular difficulties arise when an investigation involves prominent politicians and wealthy businessmen, or when it involves international bribery cases that require assistance from foreign jurisdictions in collecting evidence. Shortcomings that are at the root of these problems can be found at the legislative level; in addition, many law enforcement agencies are technically not up to dealing with complex crimes such as corruption in an appropriate manner. Legal and institutional shortcomings may have a strong impact on the effectiveness of prosecution when investigations target corrupt businessmen or politicians; these cases are often characterized by a high degree of sophistication concerning the methods of committing and camouflaging the crimes. This complexity contrasts with the broad lack of training of investigators and prosecutors in specific relevant matters such as forensic accounting, public funds, or insider trading. Unsuitable institutional provisions, especially insufficient independence of the law enforcement agencies from interfering government bureaus, add to these problems.

The influence a leading figure can exercise on his or her trial constitutes a second major obstacle. Supported by skilled lawyers, such defendants can obstruct the prosecution with lengthy appeals, and unnecessary postponements which are aimed at frustrating the system. Sometimes they even manage to influence the legislative bodies to amend legal provisions in their favour. Prominent defendants also benefit from the support of the public, which often displays sympathy for "successful" businessmen or politicians. The media, publicizing details and opinions from the trial, may also cause interference, following their own logic or even commands from the perpetrator's entourage. Reporting of corruption cases within public administration and by citizens at large another difficulty arises from the secret nature of corruption and, in most instances, the lack of individual victims that would come forward with information about an act of corruption and thus trigger an investigation. A person, in seeking to uncover instances of bribery, may also fear the vengeance of the accused, especially when his or her reporting leads to the launching of an investigation and possibly the conviction of the criminal.

Additional problems arise from a lack of independence of the law enforcement authorities and undue influence exercised on them, in particular by prominent politicians or wealthy businessmen. Because of the lack in many states of legal provisions ensuring the protection of whistle-blowers, the detection and prosecution rates remain low despite otherwise comprehensive legal and institutional anti-corruption frameworks. Most of these aspects require legislative measures. The strategies of "starting at a low level, and working one's way up" and "following the money" have proven particularly efficient even in corruption cases involving high-ranking, influential perpetrators and international transactions.

The biggest problem we now have in Zimbabwe is that corruption cases is highly politicised. The ones in power hope to score points and they will be quick to announce the arrest of the corrupt politicians who have obviously fallen out of favour with them. Corruption cases become punishment not due process. As a result the cases do not survive a day as the prosecutors are not willing to politically correct as opposed to be legally correct. Rules are bent in order to catch the leaders who have fallen out with their colleagues who might be in power.

Looking at the cases on the round Zimbabwe is still very far from successfully prosecuting a high profile corruption case. Unless the prosecution is divorced from politics the justice system will be blamed of inefficiency when it comes to corruption prosecutions.

Prosecutors are heavily compromised; they have to play to the political gallery. The line between fairness and political correctness is blurred and many times prosecutors descend in the arena and get blinded by the cloud of the political evils. vazet2000@yahoo.co.uk

Source - Dr Masimba Mavaza
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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