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Corruption is prevalent in both the public and private sectors of the economy. The fight against corruption requires an integrated and holistic approach to reduce its prevalence in both the public and private sectors. Operating in a somewhat difficult environment, we are all vulnerable to corruption in all its forms and for one to resist the temptation, we can start by signing the Integrity Pledge. As the private sector, we need not justify our efforts to fight corruption on an ethical basis alone, but it should be a company’s business interest to ensure that it does not engage in corrupt practices.

Accordingly, the role of corporate governance in preventing fraud and corruption cannot be underestimated. Companies must be ever-vigilant to protect themselves from these pernicious threats, and the board’s role in this vigilance is vital. A successful corporate governance framework requires every employee to understand the importance of safeguarding sensitive information and protecting confidential data. By following best practices in corporate governance, organizations can create and maintain effective internal control processes to detect potential frauds before they occur. Corporate governance also provides boards of directors and executive management with the necessary oversight to manage risk better while upholding ethical values at all levels of the organization. Companies must implement effective internal audit systems and standard operating procedures (SOP) to ensure compliance with governing rules and regulations. They must also enforce transparency at all levels and prevent financial mismanagement or abuses.

Good governance practices can significantly impact an organization’s ability to reduce the risk of fraud and corruption. Having clear, written policies, procedures, and protocols in place helps ensure that all individuals within an organization understand what is expected of them regarding financial reporting and compliance. Good governance practices can prevent fraudulent or corrupt activities from occurring in the first place by clearly outlining roles, creating vigilant oversight, and eliminating opportunities for abuse. Furthermore, such practices provide transparency and accountability within the organization. They also help to detect any suspicious or irregular activity before it becomes costly or damaging. Effective corporate governance also involves separating the roles of the CEO and the chair of the board of directors. This helps to ensure that checks and balances are in place and that the CEO does not have too much power.

In addition, corporate governance requires that companies have robust internal controls and systems in place to detect and prevent fraudulent and corrupt activities. This includes having clear financial reporting procedures and regular audits to ensure that financial statements are accurate and transparent. Furthermore, corporate governance requires companies to be accountable and transparent in their operations. This includes disclosing potential conflicts of interest and ensuring that stakeholders, including shareholders, customers, and employees, are treated fairly.

To add on, compliance with international standards and legal provisions can help reduce corruption by ensuring that companies and organizations follow ethical business practices and adhere to the law. This can be achieved by implementing anti-corruption policies and procedures, conducting regular risk assessments, and developing an anti-corruption ethics and compliance program. International standards and guidelines published by various stakeholders summarize best practices in anti-corruption compliance. These standards and guidelines describe the general framework of an anti-corruption compliance program, contain a lot of useful practical information, and should be taken into consideration.

The 2021 OECD Anti-Bribery Recommendation includes sections on key topics that have emerged or significantly evolved in the anti-corruption area, including, inter alia, strengthening enforcement of foreign bribery laws, addressing the demand side of foreign bribery, enhancing international cooperation, introducing principles on the use of non-trial resolutions in foreign bribery cases, incentivizing anti-corruption compliance by companies, and providing comprehensive and effective protection for reporting persons.

In this regard, compliance with international standards and legal provisions can help reduce corruption by promoting transparency, accountability, and ethical business practices. Compliance is a policy or strategy that ensures a business is operating within the law in all its activities. It’s not just a passive checklist of standards, but an active process that should prevent and remove corrupt practices within the organization. Although most anti-bribery laws take a proportionate approach, and risk varies according to both the sector and size of operation, most businesses, large and small, will need some kind of anti-corruption compliance policy. Ignorance of regulation and legislation is no excuse. Understandably, more sophisticated businesses often hire compliance officers or whole departments to minimize their risk. There are six ways that a private company can utilize to promote transparency and accountability and these include:

  • Commit – making anti-corruption part of the organizational culture and operations. Adopting a zero-tolerance policy on bribery and corruption;
  • Assess – knowing the risks and prepare for them. Recognizing opportunities to improve the organization and compliance;
  • Define – defining what success means within the organization. Developing goals, strategies, and policies and getting buy-in from colleagues by clearly showing the importance of these policies;
  • Implement – making anti-corruption programmes and policies integral throughout the hierarchy, as well as the value chain;
  • Measure – Monitoring and measuring the impact of the anti-corruption policies to identify what’s working and what still needs work; and
  • Communicate – consistently communicating progress to stakeholders, always striving for continuous improvement.

Remember, deterring corruption is the best solution. Some companies have a crowdsourced whistle-blowing system that allows truckers, small traders, and customers to report directly to Senior Management in case of fraud and an employee seeking bribes. The e-commerce system has eliminated human interaction or interface in most of the routine activities. E-commerce also provides a real-time record of transactions and even conversations between staff and external stakeholders. Enhanced access to such information is critical in reducing or totally eliminating corruption.

Also, an important tool in the fight against corruption is the cooperation between a country’s key stakeholder groups, including members of the public sector, the private sector, and civil society with the aim of creating a deep-rooted anti-corruption culture from the elementary school levels to professional levels. Such long-term initiatives create the fundamental conditions required for project-specific and industry-specific Compliance Pacts to be effective in the long run. Such initiatives may include the promotion of Collective Action methods by companies, the organizations of business roundtables, best practice sharing, information campaigns, and anti-corruption training by local chambers of industry and commerce or NGOs and cooperation with local anti-corruption authorities. That’s why ZACC and ZNCC have a standing MOU to cooperate in the fight against corruption. Additionally, the Bindura University of Science Education and ZACC are co-hosting an International Anti-Corruption Conference in Victoria Falls from 23 to 25 October 2023 as part of the information campaigns.

As ZNCC, we continue to urge our members to resist, report, and refuse corruption in an endeavor to promote good corporate citizenship underlined in hard and honest work. There is a need to harness efforts toward having the population sign integrity pledges and abide by them. This can be the first step to enhancing self-awareness and individual resistance to corruption. The need to collaborate in the corruption fight need not be overemphasized.