Former Net One boss Kangai bemoans absence of Whistle blower protection laws

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Staff Writer

Former Net-One Chief Executive Officer, Reward Kangai has taken a dig at the administration of President Emerson Mnangagwa for failing to decisively deal with the scourge of corruption that has shredded the country’s economy.

The government has arrested a number of high-profile personalities on corruption allegations although there is yet to be any conviction.

The latest corruption linked arrests are that of Minister of State for Masvingo Province, Ezra Chadzamira who was picked up by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) facing corruption charges involving allocation of land at Kilimanjaro project in Chiredzi and that of The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Mashonaland West commander, Commissioner Conneli Dube who was arrested for criminal abuse of office two weeks ago.

But Tuesday, Kangai took to his twitter handle to express his disappointment at the way the Second Republic was handling corruption in the country, questioning why there was no legislation to protect whistle-blowers.

“ 17 years after Zimbabwe acceded to the @UN  convention against corruption, there is no Whistle-blower Protection Act & is not on the agenda of the next session of Parliament, yet we continue to hear the rhetoric of “Zero tolerance to corruption”. he wrote on his micro-blog site.

Ironically, in March 2016, Kangai was suspended from his post as Chief Executive Officer of Net One after corruption allegations were levelled against him and was subsequently arrested on January 10, 2018 on the said charges.

Debate on the need for laws that protect whistle-blowers has been raging for quite some time as the country sought to find effective ways of dealing with corruption, which has had disastrous effects on the economic performance of the country.

Although there have been efforts by government to deal with the cancer, those exposing wrongdoing have been left at the deep end as they were open to abuse and harassment, considering that those involved in the corruption were bigwigs such as senior executives, government ministers and executives.

As a result, a lot of case of theft, abuse of office, bullying and other forms of corruption went unchecked because those privy to the goings on would not report for fear of victimisation, thereby aiding in the perpetuation of corruption both in the private and public sectors.

Many Zimbabweans had hoped that with the seriousness the issue of corruption has been treated,  a Whistle-blowers bill would be part of the  bills to be debated in the fourth session of the 9th parliament opened by President Mnangagwa last Tuesday.

But the Bill was not part of the more than 40 bills on the Legislative Calendar pronounced by the president.

Corruption, fraud, bullying, health and safety violations, cover-ups and discrimination are common activities highlighted by whistleblowers.

Recently The Herald ran an article titled, “President rescues ZESA whistleblowers”.

The article was in reference to the well-intended intervention by President Mnangagwa on the fate of eight ZESA workers who had disclosed some corrupt activities within the power utility.

The sin that was committed by the eight ZESA workers was exposing corruption at the parastatal, which saw the awarding of procurement contracts without following procedure.

The sanction of the sin was the dismissal of the workers who had made this disclosure.

According to reports, the affected workers have been on suspension for 15 months without pay.

The act of disclosing or exposing corruption by the ZESA workers is what is defined as whistleblowing.

Whistleblowing is the act of drawing public attention, or the attention of an authority figure, to perceived wrongdoing, misconduct, unethical activity within public, private or third-sector organisations.

Speaking at the recent Public Finance Management indaba, organised by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd), Norton MP Temba Mliswa (Independent) said one tool that has gained attention in recent years is the expanded use of whistleblowing in terms of incentives to encourage it and laws to protect whistleblowers.

“While whistleblowing alone is not a solution to corruption, it is one of the tools that can improve governance and create ethically and legally healthy organisations and governments.

“Because of the increasing recognition that whistleblowing is one part of an overall set of tools to expose corruption, many countries and international organisations are adopting legislation that legalises or encourages such behaviour.

“Zimbabwe should just follow suit. As Parliament, we must enact whistleblowers legislation which safeguards against reprisals from employers or powerful politicians,” he said.

According to Mliswa, the legislation must allow disclosure of information either internally to the legal entity concerned (Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission) or directly to competent national authorities.

The law should also establish “safe channels” for reporting the information, both within an organisation and to public authorities, while protecting whistleblowers against dismissal, demotion and other forms of punishment.

 

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