By Theophilus Chuma
THE anti-corruption drive has been taken to another level with the responsible authorities plugging existing loopholes in fighting graft through the finalisation of the Whistle Blower Protection Bill.
Zimbabwe has made strides in fighting corruption through policies and specialised units at a time when the country is losing billions of dollars annually through graft.
A large percentage of corruption exposures are attributed to whistleblowers who have been pivotal in bringing to light underhand dealings in both private and public institutions.
However, despite the high risk that has come with exposing graft, there are glaring gaps in protecting whistleblowers which has remained a major hindrance to effectively fight corruption.
The government says it is currently working on plugging this loophole through a Whistle Blower Protection Bill.
“The current gaps have indeed hamstrung our efforts to fight corruption this is why we are now moving to come up with a law that effectively speaks into protecting whistleblowers. The Bill is currently being developed and we are inviting input from all stakeholders,” said the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Virginia Mabhiza.
The finalisation of the Bill is viewed as a critical step in fighting corruption as prescribed under the United Nations Convention against Crime (UNCAC) to which Zimbabwe is a signatory.
“We are fast-tracking the UNCAC Implementation and focusing on whistleblower protection as one of the thematic areas. Protecting whistleblowers is very critical if we are to win the fight against corruption,” said Justice Loice Matanda Moyo, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission Chairperson.
A national workshop on whistleblower protection convened in Harare this Monday offered an opportunity for input from global agencies on best practices.
“Protection of witnesses should be concretised and I am happy that Zimbabwe has completed the first phase of implementation of UNCAC and now moving into the second phase. This will be very critical in improving the country’s ranking on the perception index,” said Brigitte Strobel Shaw, Chief of Corruption and Economic Branch United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
If successfully implemented, the hope is that this will effectively encourage more exposures while protecting whistleblowers against reprisals and victimisation.