Fighting Corruption through Effective & Efficient Judicial Systems
It was on the 11th July in 2003 that the African Union Heads of State and Government, meeting for their Second Regular Summit in Maputo, Mozambique, adopted the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption [AUCPCC].
The first commemoration of 11th July as African Anti-Corruption Day was in 2017 which was the AU’s Year against Corruption. Last Saturday, 11th July 2020, saw the fourth annual commemoration – and, on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, it had to be a virtual event on the Zoom platform, supported by several webinars.
.Excerpts from AU Commission Chairperson’s Address
In his brief address to the ZOOM virtual gathering H. E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, said:
“2. Corruption has been a major challenge to our society in Africa from time immemorial. It plunders our economy, weakens our growing democracy and dismantles our cherished institutions;
- That is exactly why the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption was created through the adoption of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption in 2003, to assist governments in developing and implementing policies aimed at eradicating corruption in the continent;
- In this regard, it is key for state and non-state actors to jointly and severally achieve Agenda 2063 of the African Union, especially Aspiration 3 that envisions an Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law. The judiciary is no exception, we have to engage the judiciary in this fight too;
- Dear guests and hosts, without the full, unequivocal and transparent cooperation and determination of the judiciary, perpetrators of acts of corruption cannot be brought to book and if they cannot, then the products of their acts cannot be returned to their rightful owners and if all of these happen, then our already fragile continent will be left at the brinks of destruction;
- If you remember the 2015 Thabo Mbeki Report on illicit financial flows, you will realize that over 50 billion US Dollars are lost by the continent yearly, mainly from oil and precious metals/minerals. The absence of justice, due to in part by ineffective and inefficient justice systems, establish the breeding ground that facilitate the theft of Africa’s wealth by unscrupulous officials;
- As the continent is pursuing its development agenda, and as the Covid-19 has struck the world, it is important to hold governments and individuals to account for all funds that are obtained or spent to fight the pandemic;
- Our desire to silence the guns across the continent cannot be realized if we cannot also address the governance deficits that we are facing in our respective States. It is high time our governments paved the way for the judiciary to be independent, objective, apolitical and pursue the golden goal of doing justice;
- Ladies and gentlemen, no actor is too small or too big to be set aside from the fight against this plague that drains away the continent’s wealth. We all have the responsibility to ensure that the judiciary remains steadfast, continue having the thirst to do justice, stick to ethical values and ordain themselves with the rule of law, to combat both petty and grand corruption;
- The African Union Commission is always ready to provide assistance to its organs and partners in the fight against corruption.”
Events in Zimbabwe
Statement by the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission
In a statement issued on 11th July to mark the occasion [link] Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission [ZACC], made the following points about the theme:
In line with the theme for this year’s African Anti-Corruption Day “Fighting corruption through effective and efficient judicial systems”, it is my strong conviction that all our collaborative efforts should be invested in strengthening judicial systems to deal with corruption issues decisively. The Judiciary is an essential stakeholder in the justice delivery value chain and the expectations on how corruption cases are handled within the African continent is quite high and requires coordinated efforts among law enforcement agencies and the Judiciary.
Corruption is endemic and systemic as it is has permeated all known boundaries within the African continent. This means corruption itself remains a threat to the fight against corruption. Corruption damages and compromises the impartiality of the justice delivery system through undermining the investigative agencies and courts’ credibility to fight corruption. Winning the fight against corruption is not for the faint hearted, and takes tireless efforts to strengthen stakeholders in the anti – corruption value chain if we are to achieve a sustainable justice delivery system for corruption related matters.
In line with our constitutional mandate, we shall continue to lobby for the strengthening of the Judicial System to efficiently deal with corruption and hinder individuals from benefiting from proceeds of the scourge. As a Commission, we also kindly urge the Judiciary to impose deterrent sentences to perpetrators of corruption and further ensure that effective and efficient systems are put in place to deal with corruption matters.”
President Mnangagwa Launches Zimbabwe’s National Anti-Corruption Strategy
Later the same day President Mnangagwa marked the African Anti-Corruption Day with a broadcast address to the nation, during which he launched the National Anti-Corruption Strategy [NACS].* He referred to the fact that Zimbabwe has set up special Anti-Corruption Courts and has organised specialised training not only for judges and magistrates, but also for prosecutors and investigators and continued:
“Members of the criminal justice system and those in institutions tasked to fight corruption must improve on the investigation into, and prosecution of, corruption cases.
They must be above reproach and must ensure that all cases of corruption within their rank and file are thoroughly investigated, with corrupt officials punished.
The culture of long, drawn-out prosecutions and the “catch and release syndrome” must come to an end. The arrest and successful prosecution of corrupt “big and small fish” alike, must be the new normal.”
Both Justice Matanda-Moyo and the President recognised that the courts are not alone in the fight against corruption. They can only convict in well-investigated, well-prosecuted cases where the evidence presented is sufficient to justify convictions. Premature arrests and arraignment, and going to trial on half-baked cases, are counter-productive and tend to cause public suspicion about the reliability and trustworthiness of the whole justice system, including the courts.
* Veritas hopes to have the National Anti-Corruption Strategy available on its website shortly.
Law on Corruption in Zimbabwe
Our Constitution says all the right things about combating corruption. Chapter 13 establishes the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the National Prosecuting authority and mandates them to combat corruption and crime. Chapter 8 provides painstakingly for an impartial and independent judiciary. [It is regrettable that clauses 13, 14 and 19 of the Constitution Amendment (No. 2) Bill currently before Parliament can reasonably be seen as weakening this impartiality and independence by increasing executive influence in the appointment process for senior judges. Veritas takes comfort in the opposition to these clauses expressed by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in its report to the National Assembly on the Bill.]
More generally, the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act has recently been amended to tighten the grip on dealing with property gained from proceeds on crime and corruption, and the National Prosecuting Authority in conjunction with ZACC has successfully obtained several important Unexplained Wealth Orders from the High Court.
Sadly, it has become relatively common to hear people in Zimbabwe talk about corruption among prosecutors, defence lawyers, magistrates and even judges in the superior courts. Those who are guilty should be removed from the system by appropriate means. But those who are innocent can contribute towards healing the system’s reputation by ensuring they conduct their duties in a transparent and accountable manner.
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.Post published in: Featured