Zimbabwe enjoys the dubious distinction of being one of the most corrupt countries in Africa, according to a recent Africa Fraud Barometer, trailing only Nigeria and South Africa.
Corruption has become a cancer eating away at the country's fabric. Law enforcement agents and government officials do it with impunity. Ordinary people too, consider it an important tool in their day-to-day survival kit.
An anti-corruption commission put in place a few years ago inspired hope, arresting legislators accused of abusing a development fund. But it quickly betrayed the people's trust and confidence when it caved to meddling by politicians in the high echelons of power.
And now, a savvy Harare man is taking matters into his own hands, hoping to turn the tide around. Tawanda Kembo has set up a whistle-blowing website where members of the public who have paid a bribe at some point, can come forward and tell all.
He says more than three thousand cases of bribery have been reported on the site, ipaidabribe.org.zw, in only two days.
“I’m not afraid, it’s a good initiative. I think I will have more support than threats,” he said.
People reporting graft cases, which will be forwarded to the relevant authorities for possible action, remain anonymous. If they have video and pictures, these will be uploaded on the website.
The anti-corruption campaigner told VOA he hopes the website will reduce, if not eliminate, cases of bribery and corruption at large.
“I found a similar concept in Kenya which made it easier to report corruption on-line, and I got an idea to start a website specifically targeting Zimbabwe,” Kembo said.
Most bribery reports posted on the portal point indicting fingers at traffic police officers, the Vehicle Inspection Department and the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, among others.
One whistle blower wrote: “It was after three failed attempts of trying to get a driver's license when I was finally introduced to a VID examiner. On the first attempt I was convinced into paying the bribe fee of $100 through my driving school instructor, who turned to be a conman after failing to hand the money over VID examiners.
“The other two attempts I chose not to pay anything, only to realize that I was never going to get it. That is when I was introduced to the VID examiner who demanded $100. I paid the $100, and it was so certain that I was going to pass the test. It was the easiest and fastest ever.”
Another said: “My sister failed her provisional test because she did not pay a bribe. She wrote it a few days later and it was a different marker/people. She now has paid $200 to guarantee passing her driving test as long as she does not hit the drums.”
Fraud cases in Zimbabwe topped $1.2 billion in six months to December last year, accounting for 32 percent of the overall value of fraud cases in Africa at $3,7 billion, the Africa Fraud Barometer found.