Underpaid prosecutors can’t resist bribes: NPA


THE National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has admitted that State prosecutors are susceptible to bribery because of poor working conditions and low pay.

Chief public prosecutor Tawanda Zvekare, who was representing acting Prosecutor-General Nelson Mutsonziwa on Tuesday during the launch of the Transparency International 2022 Corruption Perception Index report in Harare urged government to capacitate anti-corruption institutions financially and materially to effectively execute their mandate.

“There is a need to capacitate anti-corruption institutions materially and in terms of human resources,” Zvekare said.

“As I said earlier, you find out that most of the civil servants are remunerated poorly. Most of them are lodgers, they do not own houses. For the NPA it is not desirable to be a lodger.  Imagine a prosecutor being a tenant; he may be a tenant at a criminal’s house. The criminal is arrested then goes to court; the prosecutor will be incapacitated to deal with the case because they are being housed by that criminal. If they are properly remunerated and well-resourced you will find that they will be cushioned and will not be susceptible to corruption. 

“As long as people are suffering and a bribe is offered, it's very difficult for them to resist. It also goes back to the issue of brain drain that I was talking about. If they are well remunerated, they will not even think about resigning.”

At the launch, anti-graft activists said perpetrators of corruption enjoyed impunity.

Several high-profile corruption cases that have been brought before the courts have been dismissed without the perpetrators facing their day in court.

“Wanted persons find it easy to cross into neighbouring countries by paying their way past security, immigration and customs personnel,” Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum board member and Civic Education Network Trust (CIVNET) executive director Wellington Mbofana said. 

“In 2017 a high-profile person did the same. Weapons, dangerous substances like drugs and dangerous persons like terrorists who may radicalise the populace are also brought into the country through the same corruption-weakened system. In the north of Mozambique, the insurgence started with radicalisation around the dichotomy of rising poverty and exploitation of abundant natural resources.”

During discussions, the NPA shifted the blame of collapsing court cases on the  police and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission investigating officers saying they were failing to substantiate the cases whenever they bring them for prosecution

“The threshold of proving a criminal case is proving beyond reasonable doubt. As the NPA we depend on the investigators — that is the police and Zacc, that if they give us a good docket with enough evidence, we will not fail to do our duty.  At times we are not given good cases to prosecute, and we are compromised in our discharge of our mandate as prosecutors.  That is why some cases which may be obvious convictions to you may not be necessarily prosecuted,” Zvekare said.

“I will give an example of a soccer match, we are strikers. If the midfielders, who are the investigators, give us poor passes, we will not score.”

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