Sunday, 14 March 2021

LIFESTYLE AUDITS FOR ALL PROSECUTORS

 THE National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has introduced lifestyle audits for prosecutors and support staff countrywide with a view to flushing out and prosecuting bad apples as the office intensifies its fight against corruption.

A number of disciplinary hearings loom as a number of officers, including managers, are under surveillance over flashy lifestyles.

The lifestyle audits come at a time when a number of prosecutors have been arrested for corruption-related offences while others are reportedly driving around in luxurious vehicles while some own a fleet of commuter omnibuses and pirate taxis.

Such standards of living may be questionable considering their salaries. Lifestyle audits involve verification of an officer’s personal expenditure patterns to determine if it is consistent with their sources of income that include salary.

Those who fail the audit will be charged in terms of the law, with a possibility of being dismissed. In an interview, Prosecutor-General Mr Kumbirai Hodzi said the lifestyle audits are part of a clean-up strategy at the NPA.

“A cornerstone policy of State has been the fight against corruption and organized crime. A cocktail of measures has been devised to enhance the monitoring of the integrity of each Prosecutor.

“Among such measures, is the requirement to subject any officer to a Life Style Audit, should the circumstances of the situation require. These legitimate tools are in tandem with global trends and international best practices.

“It is often said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and for organizations such as the NPA and the PG’s Office this is best achieved through an effective internal program for preventing and detecting violations of the law or for ethical standards,” he said.

Mr Hodzi said those who fail to justify their wealth will be dealt with in terms of the law.

“Those who cannot prove legitimate sources of their wealth and assets will be subjected to legitimate due process of the law – a criminal investigation, asset seizure and forfeiture, a civil or criminal process— and internal disciplinary proceedings for summary dismissal from the PG’s Office and NPA,” the prosecution boss said.

New recruits, Mr Hodzi said, will declare their wealth in an asset register when joining the NPA.  

Some years later, the NPA may check if there the officers would have acquired unjustified wealth.

Mr Hodzi appealed to people to provide any information on NPA staffers who are living larger than their statuses to institute investigations.

“The public has always been very helpful in the fight against corruption. We appeal for whistle-blowers to supply any information helpful in the lifestyle audits at the NPA.

“So far, most of the information we are getting, is coming from members of the public,” he said. Mr Hodzi said prosecutors must be men and women of integrity who shun corruption.

“While the PG’s office and Prosecutor-General have embarked on a number of initiatives such as improving the conditions of service and ring-fencing prosecutors, what is ultimately most important is to ensure that the prosecutor remains a person of high integrity.

“The prosecutor must live to the highest demands and ideals of integrity both in his or her professional and private lives. The profession of public prosecution demands this and anything less than the highest ideals of integrity is simply not acceptable,” he said.

Recently, the NPA recruited 300 new prosecutors who are now undergoing rigorous induction and training so that they become fit for purpose. The development is set to ensure speedy prosecution of criminal cases countrywide.

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) and the police have since embarked on lifestyle audits with a number of officers being arrested or subjected to disciplinary hearings. Herald

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