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Police in Zimbabwe should declare assets
Residents Association (BPRA)
January 26, 2012
and rectified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC)
as part of its commitment to effective prevention of corruption.
The country also signed the African Union Convention on Preventing
and Combating Corruption and Related Offences (AU anti-corruption
convention). However, as a result of inadequate anti-corruption
legal framework and a culture of corruption, efforts to deal with
corruption' achieve nothing in Zimbabwe. For example, in 2011
Zimbabwe ranked 154 out of 182 countries of the world in terms of
corruption rate. In fact, there have been a countless number of
reports on corruption cases involving public officials, civil servants
or politicians since the 1980s to date. Abuses of public power,
bribery and embezzlement of public funds have beyond any reservations
been apparent. Therefore, it is expected of the government to formulate
and implement mechanisms that will deal with such levels of institutionalized
corruption to assist the economy, given the country's ranking
and economic quagmire.
police force in Zimbabwe has been found to be the worst corrupt
institution in the country, a point which was recently cemented
by the Transparency International-Zimbabwe study. Institutions such
as the police force, however, give character to the government and
the public sector in general. Therefore, the police should always
strive to maintain their integrity and that of the public sector.
If corruption is to be fought in Zimbabwe it should start with the
police, for the simple reason that they are the major culprits and
secondly they are the ones expected to root out corruption. Consequently,
measures should be put in place to deal with corruption within the
police force and I propose asset declaration as a starting point.
of assets by police is a means through which police officers are
required to disclose their income, wealth and liabilities in order
to document increases or decreases of their assets. This is because
it obliges police officers to make full, regular and public disclosures
of their assets. This means it does not only promise to offer accountability
and transparency in the force and improved service provision but
can also enhance the integrity in the public sector. However, in
order for it to be effective in achieving suppression of corruption
within the police in Zimbabwe, it ought to be supported and backed
by legal and institutional means. Actually, Zimbabwe should learn
from the AU anti-corruption convention that the country is a signatory
to, which makes it mandatory for its signatories to require declaration
of assets by designated public officials.
mandating assets declaration by all the police officers and their
families, the Zimbabwean government will not only be deterring the
police from corruption but it will be keeping track on their financial
activities. For example, in an unexplainable manner many police
officers in Zimbabwe have acquired riches beyond what their remuneration
can offer and it is known that police in Zimbabwe take bribes from
citizens to enrich themselves. Zimbabweans have a challenge of having
to pay bribes to obtain almost all services provided by the government
institutions, the police force included. Therefore, monitoring the
wealth of the police would be of assistance to deal with corruption.
The police should declare their assets when they come into office,
while in office and when leaving office or when being promoted and
this ought to apply to police officers of all ranks in the country.
With the level of corruption in the police force, the government
should emulate the Indian government that recently directed police
officers in India to declare assets and of their family members
to curb corruption within the police service. The Indian government
did this through its Public Servants Declaration of Assets and other
Provisions Act of 1983 which stipulate that.
In Ghana, there
is the Public Office Holders (Declaration of Assets and Disqualification)
Act that functions as a tool to prevent corruption. Such legislations
also exist in Zimbabwe's neighbouring countries such as South
Africa and Botswana. As an example, South Africa has implemented
conflict of interest codes requiring disclosure of financial interests
by public officials. Elected officials and senior managers in the
civil service and their spouses, publicly disclose all their financial
interests. These include shares and interests in companies, land
and property owned, paid outside employment, directorships and partnerships.
The situation in Zimbabwe's police force needs the top officials
like Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri to disclose their financial
interests in terms of shares, land and property to avoid conflict
of interest in their occupation of public offices. Such measures
if applied to the police have a preventive function, as they can
help anticipate potential conflicts of interest before misconduct
occurs and have an investigative function also, as they provide
information that may help uncover misconduct and illicit enrichment
after it takes place.
For that reason,
a legal framework to mandate the police and other public office
holders should be formulated and implemented. It should be understood
that a credible asset disclosure initiative must clearly establish
a number of important elements of the process. This is because while
asset declaration laws can be of importance in stemming abuses of
power and looting of public resources, their impact can be hampered
by shortcomings of the regulatory framework just as seen in Zimbabwe's
anti-corruption laws and institutions. Flaws in legislations that
are likely to threaten the effectiveness of asset disclosure as
a tool against corruption may include the lack of clarity about
what assets, liabilities and interests public officials are to disclose,
the absence of a legal requirement for the verification of asset
declarations the lack of effective prohibitions and clarity over
the prosecution of offences and the lack of public access to officials'
asset declarations. This therefore should be considered during the
formulation process of legislation to do with assets declaration
by police officers.
corruption to be rooted out in Zimbabwe there is need for not only
the legislations and institutions to be set up. There is also need
for political will to be present to make sure the legislations are
formulated and implemented, and should apply to every public official
from the highest level in order to deal with the effects of the
human factor. Most of the challenges Zimbabwe faces today are not
necessarily as a result of bad policies or lack of policies but
are a consequence of human agents that deliberately twist the laws
to suit themselves. Hence, mechanism should be put in place to avoid
the effects of the human factor. It is important to prevent corruption
which is an impediment to development and in any case, a culture
of corruption is unhealthy for the economic growth.
In terms of
effectiveness of the statutes made on assets declaration, a study
done by Transparency International in 2006, seeking to establish
how effective officials' asset declaration laws are in reducing
corruption established that countries which had asset declaration
by public officials for a longer time had lower levels of corruption
than other countries. The study also found out that perceived levels
of corruption were lower in countries whose declaration laws permitted
prosecution of the offending officials.
years have passed since the formation of the inclusive government
in Zimbabwe there is still lack of a clear framework to fight corruption
at various levels of governance in the country. A clear legal and
policy framework for eradication of corruption is one deliverable
which is fundamental in this transitional phase, if Zimbabwe is
to return to normalcy. Besides, closing leaks at various government
agencies, thereby increasing the financial reserves of the country,
the framework shall also ensure that services are provided in an
effective and transparent manner.
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