On Friday, the 19th of July 2019, more than 35 micro, small to medium enterprises (MSMEs) attended an anti-corruption training workshop organised by the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) and the Zimbabwe Chamber of SMEs to empower these MSMEs to prevent and fight corruption affecting SME development. The MSMEs decried corruption and pointed out that corruption was one of the leading obstacles which undermined their capacity to effectively contribute to national development. One of the participants who operates a security company indicated that he failed to win several tenders because of corruption. Institutions fingered in corruption include Zimra, the City of Gweru's Municipal Police, the Registrar of Companies, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), the Procurement Regulatory Authority, the City of Gweru's City Health Department, the City of Gweru's Department of Works and Building Inspectorate, Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and the National Social Security Authority (NSSA). These were cited among the most corrupt, which affects SME development.
After the training, the participants decided to set up a forum against corrupt, which will operate under the name and style of Gweru Micro, Small to Medium Enterprises Anti-Corruption Forum (Gweru MSME Anti-Corruption Forum). An Executive Committee was elected and is chaired by Mr. Eddison Philip Kambanje. Other members of the Forum include the following:
Vice Chairperson - Lindah Chimimba
Secretary - Clive Makumbe
Vice Secretary - Charles Foya
Organising Secretary - Mirirai Kainyero
Public Relations Officer - Martin Mawaya
Treasurer - Everisto Mbenjani
1st Committee member - Pauline Mhindu
2nd Committee member - Obert William
3rd Committee member - Willard Nabus
4th Committee member - Douglas Magodora
5th Committee member - Richard Mudzinga
Advisor - Tafadzwa Mazorodze
Mr. Kambanje, the Chairperson of the Forum, informed other members that it was not going to be business as usual in Gweru since his committee was going to work hard and ensure that the micro, small to medium enterprises fight corruption in the most effective and efficient manner.
"Thank you for giving me this opportunity to lead you. Please keep in mind that we have a very strong business case against corruption. Corruption affects small businesses more than it affects the bigger ones. In the absence of corruption, we should have been contributing much more. Some of us have lost contracts because of corruption. The plague of corruption must be fought by all and sundry. As we have learnt today, we should have our first meeting next week to discuss on our anti-corruption strategies including coming up with our Charter against Corruption," he says.
Mr. Munyaradzi Bidi, the Programmes Advisor of the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) who was the lead trainer indicated that the private sector is equally guilt of corruption just like the public sector.
"I am happy that this programme has involved the private sector in anti-corruption since the sector has always been beset by corruption, yet given a blind eye. Experience has shown that the private sector businesses are the ones that initiates the payment of bribes to operate without licences, the speed up the processing of permits and sometimes to import goods that they sell without paying duties. There are also several cases in which they pay Zimra officials to get tax clearances among other favours," he says.
Mr. Tafadzwa Mazorodze from the Zimbabwe Chamber of SMEs indicated that corruption is one of the challenges affecting SME development that should not be forgotten.
"As SMEs, we should keep in mind that corruption affects our growth. I know that at some point, we have all previously paid bribes but this must be stop. All those who will continue to pay bribes will be expelled from the Forum. We can not lead an anti-corruption drive when we are corrupt ourselves." he warns.
Also, in attendance was Mr. Obert Chinhamo, the Director of ACT-SA who pledged technical support to the Gweru MSME Anti-Corruption Forum.
"ACT-SA pledges technical support to the Forum. We will give the support in terms of training as well as help in developing, implementing and enforcing internal anti-corruption policies for individual micro, small to medium enterprises. ACT-SA will also help in the face of challenges as the Forum executes its mandate. Please note that our doors are wide open. However, it is important for the Forum to start discussing on sustainability issues. I am happy that your Chairperson has offered an office for the Forum, which is really encouraging. However, you can introduce some contributions to ensure that you have resources to carry out certain activities and stop relying on outside support. I wish you all the best" he says.
The initiative was introduced by the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) with support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The micro, small to medium enterprises are empowered to prevent and fight corruption in order to stimulate MSME development.
Source: Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA)