Transparency International Zimbabwe hosted a policy dialogue on Transparency and Accountability around the Externalized Funds and the Management of the Returned Funds. We had 2 panelist though we expected 4. Comrade Takura Zhangazha and Honourable James Maridadi availed themselves and made interesting contributions
Comrade Takura Zhangazha underscored 2 important points worth sharing
- Those people who are not on the Externalization List are the most important people not those on the list. Thus the most important list is that one which Gvt didn’t publish
- The New Gvt ‘s action in publishing the list is not that of fighting corruption rather the list is an attempt to rebrand the new political administration so that it gain credibility before the international community. The new Gvt is seeking global capital support and using such strategies it has been getting this attention and support. They want to gain market confidence and it’s about them not us. So the whole act is just a pretense
Hon Maridadi also raised 3 key question pertaining to the list
- Why is that on the list the most externalisers are of Chinese origin
- Why is that the sector with most externalisers is the mining sector
- Is there a legal framework allowing Government of Zimbabwe to prosecute the so called externalizers bearing in mind that in the first case the same Gvt did create a legal framework allowing people to externalisers
Participants also posed a number of interesting questions and these are some of the questions
- Whose money was externalized in the first case?
- is there a relationship between the externalization and the RBZ debt
- how do we improve on contract transparency, who is reviewing and monitoring some of these contracts before they are signed. Is our Parliament empowered to do so?
- What is the position of the different political parties in Zimbabwe on this issue or financial and contract transparency
Some of the long term solutions to these problems lies in contract transparency. Transparency International Zimbabwe did a study on Corruption risk in the awarding of Mining Contracts in Zimbabwe and the findings show that some of the biggest risk relates to political interference, conflicts of interest and collusion. The Parliamentary Portoflio Committee on Mines and Energy is grappling to understand how the so called 15 billion went missing. The oral hearings by this committee is revealing the extent to which the process of duel diligence is flawed, violation of corporate governance principles in Zimbabwe and failure by Government institutions to enforce contracts laws and provisions (we are told some diamond companies were operating with licenses that had expired).
If the new political administration is so sincere about fighting corruption it should allow such contracts to be reviewed and monitored by Parliament.Thats the ideal situation and it would work if we have good Members of Parliaments with ability and interest to put the interest of the nation first before that of their political organization. The question is do we have such MPs now, if we have how many?
What the committee on Mines and Energy is doing is very commendable but its a more reactive approach. Money has already been stolen. The question then is how do we prevent, prevention is always better than cure. The debate on the externalization list should be future oriented.Now money has been stolen, the most important question then should be about the return of stolen funds and property. The return of the proceeds of corruption is a fundamental principle in United Nations Convention Against Corruption to which Zimbabwe is a signatory to. Is this enforceable, if it is how. The leads me to the next point on a all inclusive anti corruption response framework. The whole issue of financial transparency needs to be an inclusive process. Key actors in the anti corruption chain such as the Police, ZACC, National Prosecuting Authority needs to be involved so that they have an understanding on what really this is and what their role is.
Lastly it is worthy mentioning that besides the oversight role by Parliament, the issue of beneficial ownership and public finance management in Zimbabwe needs to be resolved. Thanks to the Zimbabwean Independent newspaper which revealed for instance the murky details around Zimbabwe Airways. Indeed as the Zimbabwean Independent reported public funds are continuously being abused in projects that are touted to be private projects. There are some allegations out there that some of workers at Alpha Diaries were on Gvt payroll. There is an element of externalization in these so called private deals that make us of public funds like the Zim Airways saga.