CORRUPTION: AN IMPEDIMENT TO THE ENJOYMENT OF SOCIO- ECONOMIC RIGHTS
In 2013, Zimbabwe adopted a new constitution, Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act 2013 and for the first time it clearly sets out the declaration of rights and other fundamental rights. Socio economic rights are enshrined in the declaration of rights. Socio economic rights can be defined as rights that give people access to basic needs necessary for them to lead a dignified life. They include the right to food and clean water, education and health care among others.
In as much as this new constitution is hailed as one of the most progressive constitutions in Africa, a question prevails as to what extent the citizens of this country are enjoying the fulfilment of these socio-economic rights. More-so, to what extent has corruption influenced the quality and enjoyment of these rights.
In the context of socio-economic rights, corruption can be defined as the misuse of entrusted power for private gain against the rights of others. Corruption increases the cost of doing business, thus, the lack of corporate ethics within the private sector and the mismanagement of public funds within the public sector pose a threat to the enjoyment of these rights.
In terms of the constitution, the State has the duty to take reasonable measures within the limits of resources available to it to achieve the realisation of these rights. However, the embezzlement of public funds and the lack of transparency and accountability reduce the State’s ability to achieve the progressive realisation of these rights. Cases of misuse of funds and corruption scandals that have rocked the nation over the years have had a significant negative effect on the fulfilment and enjoyment of socio-economic rights.
It is no doubt that the current under performance of parastatal companies and poor service delivery has been largely a result of corruption. Access to public services such as schools and hospitals by the vulnerable members of our country is hampered due to corruption. Only those who are seen as being able to influence public officials to act in their interests are seen to be given preferential treatment at the expense of the vulnerable and poor.
The interplay between corruption and the violation of socio-economic rights is undeniable, therefore Transparency International Zimbabwe (TI Z) is of the view that there is need to deal with corruption not only from a governance angle but also from the human rights perspective. There is need for stakeholders in the anti-corruption drive to adopt a human rights based approach when dealing with corruption issues. Accountability and the rule of law are some of the key principles of human rights based programming and these are critical in the fight against corruption.