It was disclosed that around 59 per cent of the cases presented to the National Prosecuting Authority of Zimbabwe (NPAZ) by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission since its inception in 2019 has resulted in convictions at court.
Even though 59 per cent is above average, this also means that in more than 41 per cent of corruption cases, individuals still roam free even though ZACC had gathered enough evidence from investigations to show that an individual or entity was guilty.
It is within this 40 per cent that the public witness prominent and corrupt public officials roam free and it hurts to the core.
This shows a gap that exists in the system and structural reforms are necessary to give the commission a higher success rate.
When ZACC submits a docket to NPAZ, it then has no power over the case since the anti-corruption commission has no prosecuting powers.
Earlier this year, ZACC is on record demanding that there should be a timeframe in finalizing corruption cases to expedite the prosecution as suspects were taking advantage of such delays to apply for removal from remand citing trial delays.
On numerous platforms, the graft body has been accused of being a toothless dog that only catches and releases high profile officials on accounts of corruption. The lack of political will to put an effective system that allows ZACC to fully exercise its duties has also been mentioned.
If the commission puts its efforts into investigating a case and compiling a sound docket then it should also have its prosecuting powers to take their cases forward.
These powers will also expedite the trial process since ZACC will only focus on corruption cases when the NPAZ is overwhelmed by other criminal cases in the country.
Let the commission eat its cake!
The government must establish more anti-corruption courts at all levels. The commission must be awarded adequate resources to strengthen its investigations, educational and research capacity without political interference.
In 2021 alone, ZACC set a target of submitting 180 dockets, but as of November 2021, it managed 167 cases, which is not too short of success in statistics.
The government must remember that ‘when powerful people get away with corruption, people lose their trust in governing institutions. Democracies are weakened by cynicism and hopelessness. Ending impunity is an essential step towards a new social contract based on trust, integrity and justice.’