A Zimbabwe corruption watchdog says the wave of anti-government protests are, in part, fuelled by public frustration at not being listened to regarding government corruption.
In a new report, Transparency International Zimbabwe says corruption remains endemic in the country, where billions of dollars are siphoned off in illicit financial outflows every year.
The watchdog warns that corruption is increasing.
More and lower level civil servants are demanding bribes to offer public services. Some of the most cited institutions that demand and accept bribes include the police, the vehicle inspection department and the education sector.
Executive Director Transparency International Zimbabwe Mary-Jane Ncube says, “The traffic police have been allowed to extort the public and the excuse we have been given is that we have to supplement salaries. The role of political patronage that is driving corruption is consolidating power at the expense of the economy. Corruption is not an aberration to Zimbabwean politics but it is an enabler.”
Earlier in 2016, taxi drivers launched violent protests against a police crackdown.
Last week, street vendors clashed with municipal police trying to move them off the streets.
Opposition politicians say as elections approach the ruling party is using state assets to buy votes.
“Zimbabwe is under sanctions and so, there are actions that don’t follow general practice that you have to do to go around the sanctions.”
The Movement for Democratic Change Member of Parliament, Jessie Majome, says, “I am horrified by the fact that a government minister comes out in the media and says he is going to take state land and give it to ruling party youths. That is corrupt.”
Development partners say the biggest cost of corruption is the human cost and the impact on service delivery for the most vulnerable.
For the 12th straight year, Zimbabwe has remained at the top of Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) corruption index.
However, the leading party blames the corruption on sanctions.
“It’s not entirely corruption. This is why I highlighted that when you don’t understand a process, it is not always corruption when there are external issues. Zimbabwe is under sanctions and so, there are actions that don’t follow general practice that you have to do to go around the sanctions. No one talks about the effect of sanctions on us and what government must do to respond to those challenges,” says Zanu PF Member of Parliament, Daniel Shumba.
Transparency Zimbabwe says anti-graft bodies lack the resources and the teeth to hold public institutions to account.