National Workshop on Whistle-Blower Protection - Remarks by Ms Maria Ribeiro, UN Resident Coordinator for Zimbabwe

Meikles Hotel, Harare | 27-28 September 2021

· Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Honourable Ziyambi Ziyambi,

· Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, Justice Loyce Matanda-Moyo,

· British High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Her Excellency Ms Melanie Robinson,

· Chief of the Corruption and Economic Branch of UNODC, Ms Brigitte Strobel-Shaw

· Distinguished dignitaries, participants and ladies and gentlemen.

It is an honour for me to take part in this important event, which marks a significant step towards the legislative reforms in the anti-corruption landscape in Zimbabwe. Whistleblower protection is absolutely 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.

Minister, I recall that on 11 July 2020, the Government of Zimbabwe adopted the National Anti-Corruption Strategy, which amongst other issues, requires Government to develop legislation on whistle-blower protection. I am more encouraged that under your leadership, we are today gathered here to witness the process that seeks to crystalize the aspirations of this Strategy.

International instruments such as the United Nations Convention against Corruption acknowledge the importance of having whistleblower protection laws in place as part of an effective anti-corruption framework. Many countries are beginning to have such legislation in place. Legislation is an important aspect, especially if it contains key elements that are essential for whistleblower protection. Indeed, The Government of Zimbabwe requires to have such legislation. I believe this event was primarily organized to kickstart such process.

We all need to acknowledge that information about acts of corruption comes to the fore when a whistleblowing system is 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. There will be more reports of corruption if whistle-blowers know and trust that they will be protected from retaliation, reprisal, and victimization.

Addressing members of the press on the 9th of December 2020 in Harare, the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, Justice Matanda-Moyo urged every Zimbabwean citizen to take the centre stage in the fight against corruption. Moreover, on the occasion of the launch of the ZACC Strategic Plan, the President also reiterated the call to Zimbabweans to join the Government in the fight against corruption by providing the vital information. Citizens remain key stakeholders in the fight against corruption. In order for them to play an active role, they require protection. To this end, the government must guarantee the protection of whistle-blowers through the enactment of the legislation and the effective implementation of such legislation.

Minister, I understand that the Government of Zimbabwe in collaboration with UNODC will also host another workshop on Thursday and Friday focusing on increasing the effectiveness of inter-agency cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of anti-corruption cases. An effective model of inter-agency cooperation between law enforcement agencies and other specialized bodies is very critical. No single body or agency can on its own win the fight against corruption. There are often several bodies and agencies contributing to the fight against corruption. There is a strong justification for finding an effective model of coordination and cooperation. Effective model of coordination will contribute immensely to the fight against corruption in Zimbabwe.

Minister, I would like to reassure that the United Nations is very supportive to the Government of Zimbabwe in all efforts to address corruption. On this note, I would like to wish everyone a fruitful discussion for this workshop and the workshop on inter-agency coordination.

I thank you!