'Govt not serious about commissions'

HARARE - A Labour Court president has questioned the relevance of commissions in the country if government is not willing to provide funding for smooth operations.

In an arbitral award to a group of Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) employees, Labour Court president Rogers Matsikidze said problems bedevilling commissions should be external rather than internal.

“There should be serious deliberation as to the way forward of the relevance of commissions if they are underfunded. Worse, the commissions would be demotivated as well with internal problems,” he said.

“Their (commissions) problems should be external and not funding issues. One of the major drivers of corruption is poverty and if poverty is the driver, how effective is it to send an already poor officer to fight corruption. Certainly it is sarcastic,” Matsikidze concluded.

Matsikidze was delivering judgment in an acrimonious labour dispute between 26 workers and Zacc.

The anti-graft body is under siege following a stillborn but audacious bid to search and seize documents from the offices of three government ministers — Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu, Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment minister Savior Kasukuwere and Transport, Communications and Infrastructure Development minister Nicholas Goche.

The issue led to the “recalling” of Zacc chief executive officer Ngonidzashe Gumbo, who reportedly has been languishing in police custody for almost a week while two days ago, the corruption bodwy’s general manager in-charge of investigations Sukai Tongogara surrendered herself to the police as the fallout threatened to break Zacc apart.

Matsikidze in his judgment awarded the workers a total of $1 530 624 and ordered Zacc to buy five of its investigators Toyota Hilux cars before year end.

Zacc spokesperson Goodwill Shana earlier this week told journalists at a press briefing government has been dithering on the issue of staff contracts.

“It is true that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission has labour related issues. These are mainly emanating from the absence of approved conditions of service, absence of signed and confirmed contracts of employment and generally low levels of remuneration.

“The commission has worked hard to come up with suitable conditions of service and it has submitted a draft for approval to the relevant ministry and awaits its approval any day now,” Shana said.

The 26 investigators were represented by Harare lawyer Joel Mambara of Mambara and Partners while Zacc was represented by the Attorney General’s Office.

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