Ethics and Public Education Unit

Public education in general may have a multiplicity of definitions depending on the context in which it is being applied. Its sole objective is to raise people’s awareness concerning a threat caused by an impending disaster, epidemic or any eventuality that has high chances of causing discomfort to the public. Ransomed and Newton, (2018) agrees with Indati, (2015) on the point that Public Education is basically character education whose thrust is to deal with the concept of moral education (moral knowing), moral attitudes (moral feelings) and moral behaviour. It follows that Character Education (Civic Education) is believed to be founded on the following basic three components; good character is supported from good knowledge of the good, the desire to do good and doing deeds of kindness.

In the context of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, Public Education is a technical strategy in which programmed civic education is dispensed to the public with the hope to mobilise communities to prevent, resist and report any forms of corruption across the length and breadth of the country.

While it is a constitutional mandate for the ZACC to raise anti-corruption awareness countrywide, the high prevalence of corruption in Zimbabwe equally makes it an emotional issue. The deepening poverty, company closures, rising inflation, unemployment and many others, have the potential to influence the content and tone of the Public Education on anti-corruption to more of ‘inciting’ the public not to tolerate the corrupt but refuse, resist and report all incidents of corruption without fear or favour.

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission is empowered by the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the Anti-Corruption Commission Act (Chapter (9:22) to decisively deal with any form of corruption through Public Education, Prevention, Investigation and recovery of proceeds of corruption.

The Commission is aware that corruption is an insidious habit, which is criminal and continues to be transcended from one generation to another through the process of socialisation. It follows that corruption has become part of the Zimbabwean culture through the inculcation of corrupt ethos and it is exemplified by greedy, profiteering, deceit, theft and out right disregard of good corporate governance.

This implies that corruption has perverted our social fabric and people are tempted to follow the corrupt, whom they hold in high esteem because they can make quick riches despite the criminal methods they employ to amass that wealth. There is cheating, falsification of documents, bid rigging, tax evasion, racketeering and many other acts that impede the exercise of good corporate governance in nearly all institutions whether public or private.

It is also suspected that some businesses ventures have budgets to cater for bribes and this primarily have the effect of increasing the cost of doing business. For an example, some institutions offer bribes to win tenders. Such corrupt practices have far reaching effects as ultimately the general public will have to pay more by way of increased unit price of goods and services. It is also comparatively difficult for the public to access free service even in government controlled institutions such as schools, hospitals, city / town council offices and many others. This situation is calling for more and more public education on anti-corruption across the board in order to influence behavioural change towards anti-corruption.

Zimbabwe is a rich country in terms of its natural endowments, but all the sectors of the economy have suffered heavily from leakages which are motivated by the corrupt. The levels of corruption are too high and it is believed that 6 out of every 10 business transactions have a corruption element. Therefore, Zimbabwe needs to commit itself in investing in raising public awareness on anti-corruption. In response to this, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission has opened its doors to individuals, groups, and institutions that are prepared to join hands and apply their minds in the fight against corruption.

The National Anti-Corruption Strategy which was launched by His Excellency President Dr E. D. Mnangagwa in July 2020, reveals the seriousness with which the Commission and the people of Zimbabwe now have in forging a spirited fight against corruption. Through the National Anti-Corruption Strategy, individuals and institutions have been given clear roles to play and give feedback to the National Anti-Corruption Strategy Steering committee quarterly per annum and raising public awareness on anti-corruption has been made pivotal.

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission is responding to corruption through multi-layered and blended methodologies in its public education strategy. Among several strategies, the Commission has produced a module on anti-corruption which will be used to educate all employees in the civil service. The Public Service Commission will teach the module during all its programmed in-service training, employee orientation and staff development courses. Thus, ZACC is assisting the Government of Zimbabwe in nurturing an efficient civil service through equipping the employees with anti-corruption skills and knowledge and this should culminate in reduced incidents of corruption in the civil service.

The ZACC is also engaging the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education with the objective to mainstream anti-corruption content in formal curricular. One of the principal requests ZACC is making is for ZIMSEC to include at least two questions on anti-corruption in selected public examination specification grids. This move will motivate seriousness in the teaching of anti-corruption in primary and secondary schools nationwide. The efforts are all targeted at producing positive attitudes and an anti-corrupt generation by 2030.

The Commission is also using a range of print and electronic media, including social media platforms such as Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube etc. Through anti-corruption education, the Commission is convinced that Zimbabweans can practise and live in a corruption free environment, where business and industry subscribe to good principles of leadership and public administration and uphold ethical practices, (Constitution of Zimbabwe, Amendment Act 2013).

The people’s livelihoods should be restored to levels where every individual ensures that they do not depend on proceeds of corruption. Through a well programmed public education, the public should embrace the ‘Clean neighbourhood’ concept where nobody shall protect the corrupt and people should never suffer in silence when the corrupt are enjoying. Refuse, Resist and Report Corruption!