Zimbabwe urged to protect whistleblowers in graft fight


United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Maria Ribeiro

from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) THE United Nations (UN) has encouraged Zimbabwe to enact legislation aimed at protecting whistleblowers.

Such a move is anticipated to boost the National Anti-Corruption Strategy, announced in 2020 and endorsed by the UN.

Maria Ribeiro, UN Resident Coordinator for Zimbabwe, said international instruments such as the UN Convention against Corruption acknowledged the importance of having whistleblower protection laws in place as part of an effective anti-corruption framework.

She said many countries were beginning to have such legislation in place, which is an important aspect, especially if it contained key elements that are essential for whistleblower protection.

“Indeed, the Government of Zimbabwe requires to have such legislation,” she said in the capital, Harare.

Ribeiro was addressing a just-concluded two-day workshop on the protection of whistleblowers.

“I believe this event was primarily organized to kick-start such process,” the envoy said at the workshop attended by government officials and leaders of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.

Ribeiro said the event marked a significant step towards the legislative reforms in the anti-corruption landscape in Zimbabwe.

She said whistleblower protection was required to safeguard the public interest and to promote a culture of public accountability and integrity.

“The risk of corruption is significantly heightened in environments where the reporting of wrongdoing is not supported or protected.”

Ribeiro acknowledged that information about corruption came to the fore when a whistleblowing system was designed to encourage more reports from citizens and officials in public and private sectors.

“Key to such a system is the effective protection mechanism that is embedded on the system,” she said.

“There will be more reports of corruption if whistle-blowers know and trust that they will be protected from retaliation, reprisal, and victimisation,” Ribeiro said.

The envoy reassured Zimbabwe of its support to the fight against corruption.

President Emerson Mnangagwa has made the crackdown a priority.

Corruption is blamed for inequalities in the Southern African country paralysed by economic crises over the past two decades.

Zimbabwe is widely believed to be losing an estimated US$2 billion annually due to corruption.

– CAJ News

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