In her book, Fight Corruption is Dangerous, former Nigerian Finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala chronicled the pitfalls of fighting the scourge and derailing the gravy train.
Okonjo-Iweala detailed how she was always threatened with perpetrators kidnapping her then 83-year old mother, probably to send the message clear that she would not succeed in derailing the gravy train.
Justice Loyce Matanda-Moyo, the first female to be appointed as chairperson of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption (ZACC), is alive to the dangers one faces when fighting the scourge but is motivated by a desire to see a corrupt free Zimbabwe in which integrity, honesty, transparency, and accountability reign.
“Fighting corruption is very risky as corruption always fights back and more often using unorthodox means but we are motivated by the benefits that accrue to the nation by fighting this vice,” Justice Matanda-Moyo told Business Times.
The development and growth of the economy will be assured when corruption has been eliminated and illicit financial flows are blocked to ensure finances remain within Zimbabwe and are used for the development of our country, she said.
“The desire to see a better Zimbabwe overrides the risk involved.”
She is motivated by the need to defeat corruption, adding the anti-graft body “is committed to achieving that”.
“In our traditional culture “mbayo” (greediness) is not allowed and there should be equitable distribution of resources. I am motivated by the desire of Ubuntu. Corruption mainly affects women and children. As a mother I am concerned that my fellow women and offsprings are disadvantaged by this “greed” which is corruption,” Justice Matanda-Moyo said.
The High Court judge is leading one of the independent commissions enshrined in the constitution and has been at the helm of ZACC since 2019.
She said ZACC has recorded success as a survey showed that 70% of the people were aware of the existence of the Commission and its mandate, up from 5% four years ago.
Organisations and individuals are now aware of ZACC as evidenced by the increased number of reports and type of cases reported, she said, describing this as a milestone for the anti-graft body as it seeks to ensure that “100% of the population in all corners of the country are aware of our existence”.
“I am however pleased that we are seeing changes in the citizenry as people are now resisting corruption and, in some cases, even effecting citizen arrest on those committing corruption. Our Public awareness campaigns extended to cover rural areas have also seen ZACC receiving complaints from the most remote rural areas,” Matanda-Moyo said.
ZACC has also decentralised to six provinces—Manicaland, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Masvingo, Midlands and Bulawayo—from one office in Harare in 2019. ZACC is now a member of the Globe network, a network of anti-corruption agencies, and represents SADC in the Association of African Anti-Corruption Agencies (AAACA). The Commission has ZACC has signed MOUs with 35 local institutes, two with Anti-Corruption Agencies in the SADC region and one with an international organisation which specialises in financial investigations and asset recovery.
ZACC also set up an Asset Recovery Unit in 2019 and is currently conducting investigations for purposes of recovering proceeds of corruption.
“The first Unexplained Wealth Order granted in Zimbabwe was granted through an application made by ZACC at Harare High Court where the State recovered a property purchased using the proceeds of corruption,” Justice Matanda-Moyo said.
ZACC has also partnered the Auditor General’s office in ensuring recommendations by the Auditor-General are being implemented.
“It was through this initiative that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development established a Central Internal Audit Unit which is ensuring the capacitation and empowerment of Internal Audit departments within ministries and parastatals. The Commission has facilitated the establishment of Integrity Committees in various organisations to promote integrity and transparency,” Justice Matanda-Moyo.
She said the organisation has expanded with the massive recruitment of officers and capacity building of these officers is ongoing and facilitated the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy which was launched by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2020.
“This has seen the coming on board in the anti-corruption fight of all Ministries, law enforcement agencies, Civil Society, churches and members of the public. In addition, this strategy has also seen the improvement in Inter-Agency cooperation,” Justice Matanda-Moyo said.
ZACC had misses. Justice Matanda-Moyo said the anti-graft body is still struggling to ensure the promulgation of the whistleblower Protection Act and the amendment to the ZACC Act.
“Witnesses and whistleblowers are very important in the fight against corruption but they are now demoralised by lack of a legal framework that protects them. In addition, options of a fine for corruption cases is trivialising the fight against corruption in Zimbabwe. There is also a need to include sector specific offences in the ZACC Act,” she said.
Critics say there has been a low level of successful prosecution despite ZACC recording a high success rate of arrests.
The ZACC chair said the organisation’s mandate was to investigate for the purposes of prosecution and asset recovery. The responsibility to prosecute lies in the National Prosecuting Authority, she said.
“Be that as it may, of the few cases prosecuted during the year 2022, the conviction rate was 76%, which is quite high. I am sure every citizen including yourselves would like to see the course of justice taking place with more cases of corruption being prosecuted,” Justice Matanda-Moyo said.
Zimbabwe is among the countries that have ratified the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, a stance which shows a level of political commitment towards the fight against corruption, she said.
The move, the ZACC chair said, enhances “our regional and continental co-operation in the fight against corruption as this provides a platform where we share strategies on combating, investigating and preventing corruption”. “We also share notes on the new trends of criminal activities and other best practices. It has also become easier to obtain information informally and formally within the continent. As a result of this interaction our officers have gone for further training within the continent,” she said.
Corruption has become sophisticated especially if it involves multinationals. The ZACC chair said the organisation’s officers are up to the task as they have been capacitated to investigate complex crimes through capacity building received from its Training Academy as well as partners such as local, regional, and international institutions.
Recently, Sadc was involved in training ZACC officers in cyber security crimes, as an example, she said, adding her organisation work in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies locally, regionally and internationally in the fight against corruption.
“Where there may be a lack of a certain skill, we complement each other,” Justice Matanda-Moyo said.
She is committed to the fight against corruption in Zimbabwe in the short, medium, long term and into the future.
The ZACC chair believes that leaders should allow participation from all members of the organisation.
“Being a leader is not only about leading, I have also learnt to be led. I believe in the participation of everyone mindful of the fact that leadership is not about following what the majority says but doing the right thing,” she said.
Justice Matanda-Moyo draws from the Bible and from the law, adding that she grew up with Christian values.
She is reading Leading Transformation in Africa by Delanyo Adodevoh which calls for the young generation of African leadership to be reminded of a biblical worldview and to function as servant leaders.