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Transparency and Accountability: Plugging Corruption and Illicit Financial Flows in Zimbabwe. - IGDzw

Transparency and Accountability: Plugging Corruption and Illicit Financial Flows in Zimbabwe.

Transparency and Accountability: Plugging Corruption and Illicit Financial Flows in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s governance landscape is marred with history of corruption and illicit financial flows all of which hamper sustainable development and undermine socio-economic rights of the citizens. Transparency is a feature of sustainability and good governance whilst accountability ensures that those in power do not abuse the power intrusted in them by the people. However, it is unnerving to note that those who are in power are failing to conduct themselves in a manner that depicts ethical leadership which ensures that they act lawfully and in the interest of the people.

The governance record in the African region shows poor level of public accountability as well as unethical conduct and hence needs to be ameliorated. The transparency of decision making and resource management for the public examination should be documented and accessible for the public inspection. (Hope, 2005:296). There is a lot of secrecy in the management of public resources and this has heightened corruption and illicit financial flows in Zimbabwe. Illicit financial flows refer to the illegal movement of money and anything that carries monetary value from one country to the other. The Global Financial Index maintains that such flows are illicit when the funds are illegally earned, transferred and utilised outside the borders. There is a nexus between corruption and Illicit financial flows as well as transparency and accountability due to the fact that those in power are engaging in corrupt activities which lead to financial leakages. The lack of transparency in public resources management further fuels these unethical and illegal practices.

Kakumba &Flourie (2007:651) are of the opinion that, accountability is critical for three reasons a) to ensure control of abuse and misuse of public power (b) to ensure effective use of public resources and adherence to procedural law and public service values;(c) to encourage learning and continuous improvement in governance and public management. These, however are fundamental principles that seem to be lacking in Zimbabwe’s public resources management.

As with most SADC countries, Zimbabwe continues to lose billions of dollars through corruption and Illicit Financial Flows. Zimbabwe has lost over US3 billion to illicit financial flows through tax, evasion, Flows. Zimbabwe, fraud, drug trafficking and money laundering (Herald,26 February 2020). These figures could just be a tip of the iceberg as some of the money goes unaccounted for as there is a lot of secrecy with regards to financial leakages.

Prisca Mupfumira, a former government minister stands accused of corruption, theft and misappropriation of public funds to the tune of US95 million. As Zimbabwe is battling with the Covid 19 crisis, former health minister Obadiah Moyo is implicated in theft of Covid relief funds worth US65 million.  The above examples depict the amount of corruption that exists in the country. These have grave socioeconomic consequences on the general citizens as they downplay their social economic rights in terms of development, education, health, service delivery as well as food security.

Zimbabwe is currently in debt distress (ZIMCODD2020). The systemic corruption means that the country will continue losing revenue and fail to service its internal as well as external debt. The accumulation of debt then becomes a recurrent burden that will hinder sustainable development. It is for this reason that transparency and accountability is crucial when dealing with public resource management. Holders of public offices have an obligation to effectively manage resources on behalf of the people to ensure that resources are equitably distributed.

The effects of lack of transparency and accountability has far reaching consequences as these not only fuel corruption and illicit financial flows but go beyond that to instil a culture of social evil that can lead to degradation of a state. Khalil Goga says;

The most damaging effects of illicit financial flows related to corruption cannot be captured solely in numerical or financial terms. Corruption related to Illicit Financial Flows can cause political and social damage, undermining state institutions such as banks, financial centres, the police and the judicial system, creating further impediments to investigate these flows. In the long run these institutions will be used to impair justice and become corrupt themselves.

Furthermore, the lack of transparency in the country’s extractive industry is a cause for concern. Reports of mining in Hwange National Park has recently caused outcry in various sectors. Not only are communities failing to benefit from mining in their communities both socially and economically but the environmental degradation that comes with mining is a serious threat to conservation and biodiversity. There is no transparency in the awarding of mining rights such that communities are left vulnerable to abuse by mining companies principally Multinational companies that are operating in the country.

It is the duty of the citizens o demand transparency and accountability from their leaders. The social contract that exists between citizens and their leaders is reason enough for citizens to demand transparency and accountability. For in as much as citizens have a duty to perform citizen obligations such as paying tax, office bearers must keep their end of the bargain and properly manage resources as well as take responsibility for the decisions they make on behalf of the people.

Civil Society Organisations must continue educating both office bearers and the citizens on the importance of transparency and accountability., Most importantly, demanding transparency and accountability should not be mistaken for political mischief. Zimbabwe is a signatory of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AUPCC) and yet the situation in the country with regards to corruption is deplorable, the Zimbabwean watchdog on corruption ZACC has not been very effective in combating corruption emanating from lack of transparency and accountability. It is thus imperative that the citizens become their own watchdog to curb against corruption and illicit financial flows.

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