Harare – Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has bemoaned the low number of convictions in corruption cases as a result of non protection of whistle-blowers.
Speaking at the National Conference for Human Rights and Access to Justice in Harare on Tuesday, ZACC chairperson Catherine Muchechetere said corruption had gone “viral” and although her commission had investigated 455 cases it had only 36 successful convictions.
She said many ordinary citizens were afraid to report corruption as they lacked legal protection.
“Corruption fights back and that is a fact, people are not willing to come forward.
“They make a report but when they go to court they are criminally liable in their individual capacity so someone will say is it worth my while to be criminally liable if, may be, some things are not factual is it worth my while? So they then will pull back. They will not give evidence in court and when there is no evidence the case will be thrown away and then you say ZACC is not doing its work. We need the citizens of this country to step up and come forward,” she said.
She urged government to enact a law which protects whistle-blowers.
“Yes we do protect our whistle-blowers but we have also advocated for a Whistle-blowers Protection Act which has not yet come into effect,” she said
Speaking at the same event, Zimbabwe Republic Police representative from the Anti-Corruption Unit, Josphat Mutipforo said his unit’s major challenge was that ordinary citizens were late to report cases involving high profile people.
“Corruption by influential people or people in authority is normally reported very late as the perpetrators will be wielding too much power.
“Potential witnesses are scared or afraid of exposing that corrupt individual by the time they report corruption it is only after that person has lost authority. Evidence will be destroyed,” he said.
Mutipforo also urged citizens to report cases before posting accusations online to avoid losing evidence and witness tampering.
“The perpetrator himself will find ways or avenues of destroying evidence, he can even influence witnesses before the police is aware of the issue,” he added.
The conference’s keynote speaker was Kenyan Member of Parliament Otiende Amollo.
In his final comments he said although judiciaries had their faults regarding convictions in cases of corruption it was risky to continue that perception as it could lead to “botched” cases by investigators or prosecutors.
“If the narrative of the fall guy being the judiciary is sold too much it will give the avenue for people to sabotage the process,” he said.