ON 11th July this year it was another ‘African Anti-Corruption Day,’ an opportunity for countries in the developing continent to assess themselves on whether efforts being taken to fight the vice are successful.
Zanzibar through its ZAECA, says there have been admirable gains in the war, which intensified under President Hussein Ali Mwinyi.
Although the African Anti-Corruption Day 2022, under the theme “Strategies and Mechanisms for the Transparent Management of Covid-19 Funds” is commemorated annually by the continent on July 11, Zanzibar celebrated the day on the following day (July 12) to pave way for the Muslims Eid al Adha celebrations to mark the end of the Muslims pilgrimage to the sacred City of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
During the celebrations officiated by President Hussein Ali Mwinyi, authorities explained that through the ‘Zanzibar Ant-Corruption and Economic Crime Authority- ZAECA), there is progress made in fighting the evil although more concerted efforts are still needed.
Dr Mwinyi expressed his satisfaction on the pace in combating corruption, and also revealing his happiness about the use of Covid-19 rescue funds in implementing various development projects, mainly construction of schools, health facilities and efforts to tackle water shortage.
“I am impressed with the expenditure, including empowering youth economically by giving them loans to run businesses, taxi motorbikes (bodaboda) and fishing boats,” the President said.
Since the theme was on ‘keeping open eyes’ on use of post pandemic relief funds from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the ZAECA Director General- Assistant Commissioner of Police Ahmed Khamis Makarani informed the gathering that it had received and handled more than 41 Covid-19 related cases, some of which ended in convictions, recoveries, arrests and other ongoing investigations.
He said that about 8.65bn/- was recovered from the inflated Covid-19 government relief food prices, while the Auditor General reported that there was suspected financial indiscipline in the utilization of 311bn/- disbursed to government departments and agencies for Covid-19 relief.
“Besides the fight against Covid-19 related corruption cases, ZAECA in collaboration with other agencies have intensified the war against corruption in other areas with focus on development projects,” Mr Makarani said.
He said that anti-corruption campaign also involves legal reforms and institutional restructuring to improve the quality of accountability and combating corruption.
The African Anti-Corruption Day was designated by the African Union to highlight the continued need to fight corruption. According to Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perception Index, Africa, the lowest scoring region got an average of 33/100 compared to Europe the highest scoring region with 66/100.
According to the High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa report published in 2021, Africa is estimated to be losing more than 50 billion dollars annually to illicit financial outflows, but Tanzania has been recording success in controlling corruption as it is 87 position least corrupt nation out of 180 countries, according to the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International.
The Minister of State- President’s Office (Constitution, Legal Affairs, Public Service and Good Governance) Mr Haroun Ali Suleiman, has said that although Zanzibar is making strides in anti-corruption campaign, members of the community should not hide any wrongdoing that occurs in corruption and economic crime, especially in projects as directed by President Mwinyi.
He said the task of preventing and combating corruption is not limited to ZAECA and government authorities but includes all citizens at all levels, and other stakeholders and medi.
“In order to achieve this goal, it is the responsibility of every citizen to ensure the evil of corruption and economic crime, especially in the projects implemented with funds from Covid-19 relief funds so that legal action can be taken against the perpetrators,” Mr Haroun said.
He also emphasized that people should support ZAECA to identify loopholes used by dishonest people in public and private institutions to ensure corruption and economic crimes are eliminated in the country, because corruption still remains a major problem for the African society, leading to poverty and abuse of public offices.
ZAECA is responsible for investigating allegations related to corruption and economic crime. The investigation usually goes through various stages, including receiving information, analyzing, assessing and presenting the investigation file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
This is in accordance with Section 13(1) of the Zanzibar Anti-Corruption and economic crime Act, No. 1 of 2012. ZAECA also operates by receiving complaints from various sources, including confidential and open information such as in the media, regular mail, emails, comment boxes, and telephone 113 free phone calls.
For the period January to December, 2021, ZAECA received a total of 223 complaints. Among the allegations received were lobbying and accepting 26 bribes, bribes in 3 tenders, 13 tax evasion, misappropriation of 10 assets, two smuggling, one sexual corruption, one forgery, and 81 allegations of embezzlement.
ZAECA, after receiving reports of corruption and economic crimes, investigates the allegations and upon completion of the investigation, a file is submitted to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for assessment, advice and subsequent prosecution.
The director general says that the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crime Authority is responsible for educating the people of Zanzibar on the problem of corruption and economic crimes, its consequences and how to cooperate with the government against these crimes.
In the implementation of this role, between January and December 2021, ZAECA convened a total of 66 meetings involving the executives of various public, private and civil society (community) institutions and successfully reached 2,760 participants.
In addition, 25 radio and television programmes were conducted through public and private entities, four exhibitions, 16 Shehia (lowest or grassroots government administration) meetings while anti-corruption clubs in various schools in Unguja and Pemba schools were formed, enabling a total of 1,008 students to be educated on corruption and economic crimes.
According to the Director General, ZAECA has been going on well in the implementation of its duties, leading to various achievements driven by the sincere commitment of President Hussein Ali Mwinyi; establishment of the Office in Unguja North and the Western Urban Region; and conducting initial forensic training.
Minister Haroun says that despite many successes, in 2021 there were also some challenges that affected efforts to tackle corruption and economic crime. The challenges include shortage of professionals; lack of the Whistle Blower Act; and lack of a specific share of funds to run institution rather than relying on potion under Other Charges (OC).