HARARE, November 18 (The Source) – An overwhelming majority of Zimbabwe’s businesses perceive the police, state procurement board and tax collector to be the country’s most corrupt government agencies, according to a survey conducted by three industry bodies.
A recent Transparency International report estimated that Zimbabwe loses $1 billion annually to corruption.
A ‘Business Transactional Corruption Survey’ commissioned by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) and the Small and Medium Enterprises Association of Zimbabwe (SMEA) looked at businesses’ perception of 16 government agencies as well as municipal departments responsible for business registration and inspection.
81 percent of the 403 firms — 381 from Harare and 22 from Bulawayo — polled between July and August 2015, believe the police are “always corrupt, almost always corrupt or mostly corrupt,” the survey found.
Sixty-four percent of the respondents found the state procurement board to be corrupt, followed by 52 percent who had an adverse view of the Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) and 48 percent for Zimra.
“Respondents were asked what their perception of various government departments or agencies was, regarding the level of corruption, on a 5-point scale from ‘always corrupt’ to ‘hardly ever’ or ‘never corrupt,’ the report,dated March 2016 but only obtained by The Source this week, says.
“Based on these summed proportions, the police, followed by the state procurement board, are deemed the most corrupt (81 percent and 64 percent, respectively), followed by Zimra and the city health department (48 percent each).”
The Ministry of Transport’s Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) follows closely behind with 47 percent of surveyed businesses perceiving them to be corrupt, the same rating as the Immigration and Customs departments.
The Department of Works and Building Inspectorate (44 percent), municipal licensing offices (43 percent) and the National Social Security Authority (NSSA 43 percent) complete the mid-table.
The Registrar of Companies, Zimbabwe National Water Authority and Zesa are tied at 31 percent, while the Environmental Management Authority comes in with a 30 percent corruption perception among the polled firms, ahead of the deeds office (26 percent) and the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund at 21 percent.
“Almost two-thirds of respondents consider that the level of corruption has increased substantially since 2013,” reads some of the survey’s findings.
“Almost a third are subjected to requests or demands for bribes, or what are felt to be unjust fines from public officials, in return for services on a daily basis, and almost half at least monthly.”
Government recently suspended the head of tax collector Zimra and several other senior executives, alleging that an audit had unearthed fraud and corruption that could have cost the state millions of dollars. Last month, Zimra chairperson Willia Bonyongwe said whistleblowers had averted $23 million in potential fraud involving Zimra officials.
The state procurement board, on the other hand, has been at the centre of several controversies involving the irregular award of government contracts.