Afro Barometer Survey: Connecting the dots using the Corruption lens.
The recent survey conducted by Mass Public Opinion Institute through Afro Barometer presents a current public opinion on governance issues in Zimbabwe. Critics have been quick to demystify the findings as embellished and divorced from the socio-economic challenges faced by most citizens. In this article, Transparency International Zimbabwe (TI_Z) attempts to unpack some of the key issues emerging from the survey using a corruption lens in anticipation of stirring the discussion on governance issues in Zimbabwe.
Teresa Mugadza in a recent publication entitled, Effectiveness of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Southern Africa aptly summarises corruption levels in Zimbabwe as “grim and depressing”. The historical overview that has focused on grand corruption has shown elevated levels of impunity that has remained unabated since the early 1980s thus contributing significantly to the current rise of petty corruption. As a result, Zimbabwe still fares badly in the Corruption Perception Index Score (CPI) at a depressing 22. Within this context, citizens will therefore logically feel disgruntled about the government’s efforts in fighting corruption as evidenced by the Afro Barometer survey which indicates that 71% of the respondents pointed out that the government of Zimbabwe is not doing well in fighting corruption.
Citizens complain that the government is not doing enough in the provision of key service delivery and socio-economic issues such as maintenance of roads (86%), narrowing the economic gap (74%), access to water (61 %) and access to health (55%). Ironically, the same citizens do not see the direct correlation between high levels of public sector corruption and lack of service. The figures shared by Afro Barometer seem not to be far from the recent study shared by Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) in 2016 that indicated that 68% of the respondents felt that the government is not effective in fighting corruption.
Even though Zimbabwe has a substantial legal framework to combat corruption such as the enactment of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Anti-Corruption Commission Act as well as “independent” institutions such as the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the National Prosecution Authorities designed to assist in the fight against corruption, we still record alarming levels of corruption. The lack of political will to effectively deal with corruption in Zimbabwe has therefore been a let-down.
Another disconnect emerging from Afro Barometer’s survey is the percentage of respondents exhibiting trust levels in public institutions such as the police and the courts of law. Judging from the recent survey by TIZ, public institutions such as the police, VIDs and ZIMRA have been implicated as the most corrupt with elevated levels of public distrust. This shows that an alarmingly large number of citizens fail to connect the dots between corrupt behaviour of public officials and other mal administrative issues resulting in poor service delivery that they encounter on a daily basis. However, it cannot be denied that corruption is slowly becoming a cultural practice which if not effectively dealt with by all the stakeholders will remain a “heavy albatross on the neck of citizens”. It is imperative to ensure that there is citizenship awareness on anti-corruption and policy advocacy issues to curb any further penetration of corruption in the Zimbabwean culture.