By Melisa Chatikobo

THE scourge of corruption is costing Zimbabwe investment opportunities while the country is also losing billions of dollars, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) chairperson Loice Matanda-Moyo has said.

In a speech read on her behalf by her deputy Phineas Murapa, pictured, at the Sadc cyber forensic training launch in the capital yesterday, Matanda-Moyo said the anti-graft body needed to embrace technology to effectively deal with corruption both in the public and private sectors.

“The current ranking of Zimbabwe in terms of the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) which is at 157/180 has also had a major impact on the investments coming into the country.

“Zimbabwe is estimated to be losing billions of United States Dollars annually due to corruption. Such illicit financial flows bleed the economy of its revenue meant to promote sustainable socio-economic development and the betterment of the livelihoods of all Zimbabweans. This leaves the government with little or no resources to fulfil their obligations to their citizens.

“If Africa wants to successfully attract the investment required for inclusive growth, the respective governments and private sector players must combine their efforts to tackle corruption,” Matanda-Moyo said.

She said Zacc officials needed to receive more training as cybercrimes were now more sophisticated.

 “While advanced digital technology is now available to investigators to help them uncover and prosecute corruption across Africa, the fight against corruption is being hampered by lack of technological skills in law enforcement agencies, lack of adequate legislation and fragmented technology at State level.

“To seize the opportunity to use forensic technology to root out fraudulent activity, improve governance and bring those guilty of corruption to book, governments need to consider, upping the skills of law enforcement agencies in the technological age hence the importance of cyber forensic training,” Matanda-Moyo said.

She further called for the adjustment of law to ensure critical evidence is retrieved by officials easier before illegal transactions take place.

 “There is a need for adoption of basic legal frameworks that deal with cybercrimes strengthened by policies that allow law enforcement agencies to access information within a reasonable amount of time to prevent the movement of illicit money.

“Reducing the costs of digital forensic investigation is important as the cost of access to information remains high and difficult to access. Investment in cross departmental information technology and systems can help to bring down costs and improve transparency,” said Matanda Moyo.

According to Matanda Moyo, public procurement systems also represent an opportunity for fraudsters and corrupt officials to access State funds.

“The governments need to improve transparency of state tender processes. While tender processes are designed to create competition among service providers, to prevent corruption, and to ensure governments get the best value for money.

 “A lack of transparency in tender processes has driven up corruption, not only discouraging much needed investment, but state funds under the guise of legitimacy creating unequal playing fields which prevent local small businesses from growing,” Matanda-Moyo said.

“Sophisticated fraudsters can submit multiple tenders, under different company names without raising red flags. However, technology can improve governance by providing a mechanism to highlight suspicious entities that may be committing tender fraud across multiple departments.

“Technology can help separate the person adjudicating the tender from the tender process, reducing the risk of corruption,” Matanda-Moyo said.