Barking on the wrong tree won’t eradicate corruption

By Mapozho Saruchera

The recent developments in Zanu PF which saw the removal of Secretary for Youth Affairs, Pupurai Togarepi, and suspension of his deputy, Lewis Matutu, and Political Commissar , Godfrey Tsenengamu, has been misinterpreted by traditional Government detractors to mean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is impeding the fight against corruption.

The above shallow interpretation is, of cause, devoid of what makes a case stand in the court of law. That is, considering that the whole point of accusing anyone of a crime is best left for justice to take its course.

Allow me to digress a little, on 24 June 2019, the Zanu PF youth league came out guns blazing naming and shaming Party members and ordinary individuals accused of allegedly engaging in corrupt practices. This saw the ruling party constituting a commission to investigate party officials and advising that the Youth League should have followed internal procedure for redress.

It can also be argued here that the Youth League should also have compiled evidence incriminating the corrupt and approach relevant authorities for the issues to be dealt with and here is why;

Zanu PF is not a Government ministry or department that is mandated by law to fight corruption. All the ruling party can do is to raise the red flag and approach the relevant institutions mandated by law to receive complaints, investigate and ascertain whether a crime has been committed, or not. With that in mind, the Youth League could have approached the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) in corruption cases and the Competition and Tarrif Commission in cartel cases. So, for the youths to have said that all the party members fingered in the corruption were supposed to do the honorable thing and not report for work until they had cleared the allegations made against them was illegal to say the least.

Secondly, as a general rule, the burden of proof lies on the prosecution in a criminal case. Thus, he who accuses must provide sufficient evidence that a crime was committed in order to win a case.  Had those accused of corruption been brought before a court of law the onus would have been upon Zanu PF Youth League to provide sufficient evidence to warrant a conviction. In short – accusations alone do not warrant a conviction.

However, other might argue that a reverse onus clause (that is if we have it in our statutes) would have allowed the youths to shift the burden of proof onto the individual specified to disprove an element of the information – fact still stand they were supposed to report somewhere!

With hindsight of the above, it boggles the mind why Togarepi and company have continued on the same path. They even said they were now speaking in their own capacity – attracting personal liability. What is the trio’s motive? Are they really trying to help the President?

Truth is the press conference route will never result in a successful conviction for hearsay evidence is not admissible in court, unless a statue or rule provides otherwise.

This is not to say Government has not been doing anything about corruption – no! The president has never mince his words with regards to the vice – “there are no sacred cows!” He even gave ZACC arresting powers.

All the responsible authorities need to do is to carry out thorough investigations, come up with water tight cases for the corrupt to see that crime does not pay. In same breath, legislators need to come up with prohibitive laws.