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e enjte, 6 shtator 2007

CRUMBLING ZIMBABWE RIPE FOR CORRUPTION: WATCHDOG!


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(The picture deceives. The shelves you see in that picture are no longer like you see there!)

Crumbling Zimbabwe ripe for corruption: watchdog
 
Zimbabwe's failing economy and collapsing services have provided an environment ripe for graft, with the impoverished country's woes facilitating an ever-worsening slide towards corruption.
 
Despite setting up a local graft-busting body in 2004, Zimbabwe appears to be losing the battle against corruption, with President Robert Mugabe's economic policies seen to promote corrupt behaviour, according to a leading watchdog.
 
In 2003 Transparency International, an organisation monitoring global corruption, ranked Zimbabwe 77th most corrupt out of 130 countries evaluated. By 2005, Zimbabwe had slid to 130th of 163 countries.
 
"Zimbabwe is ranked 130th amongst 163 countries and it has become very corrupt compared to others," Killron Dembe, executive director of TI in Zimbabwe, told AFP.
The most recent corruption index did not bode well for foreign investment in the crisis-ridden country, Dembe said.
 
He said the country's "economic malaise" had increased levels of corruption among a population burdened by steep prices of essentials and food shortages.
 
"When you have people who have become billionaires overnight and are considered as role models, you have a challenge because this becomes part of the country's culture," he said.
Dembe said Mugabe's economic policies were exacerbating the situation, despite his anti-graft crusade yielding arrests of senior government officials.
 
"Zimbabwe needs proper policies to end corruption. Distorted policy regimes tend to promote corruption," Dembe said.
 
"When you have different exchange rates and different fuel prices, that promotes corruption."
Since August last year, the authorities have kept the local unit at 250 Zimbabwe dollars against the greenback, yet on the parallel market it has slid to 23,000 dollars.
 
Zimbabwe is facing an economic meltdown with inflation of over 7,500 percent and unemployment above 80 percent.
 
In a 2006 meeting of the ruling ZANU-PF Mugabe acknowledged corruption had reached the party's upper echelons, saying he wanted to cleanse the central committee amid "many cases" of abuse of authority.
 
However the country's Anti-Corruption Commission, set up with the assistance of TI, has little to show from its fight against corruption.
 
"They have done nothing tangible. There is nothing visible," Dembe said of the commission, whose chairman is appointed by Mugabe.
 
"The commission is answerable to the executive ... It's limited in terms of independence and its major challenges are resources and capacity," Dembe said.
 
"The question is what is happening on the ground... there is no visible action taking place?"
One of the few to be convicted was Charles Nherera, chief executive of public bus company ZUPCO, who was jailed for accepting a US 85,000 dollar bribe from a Harare businesman whom he awarded with a contract for 75 buses.
 
Former finance minister Chris Kuruneri was acquitted in July after being accused of smuggling money abroad to build a house in South Africa.
 
Johannes Tomana, deputy chairman of the commission said the public had reported 9,000 graft cases since 2006.
 
Of these the commission was probing 5,000 cases, out of which only 27 had been tried in court "and we secured 22 convictions," state media quoted Tomana as saying.
"Nobody is immune," he said, urging whistle-blowers to report corruption as the public was protected by law and would not be victimised by those under probe.
 
But the opposition remains sceptical, with Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Nelson Chamisa saying the graft battle was a "big joke".
 
"Just look around, corruption is being administered from various centres of power. All state institutions are oozing with corrupt tendencies." he added.


 
 

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