The Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda on Tuesday made a ruling on a resolution by members of the assembly to establish an ad hoc committee to investigate the well-publicised problem of corruption in the public sector. The National Assembly adopted the resolution on 8 April after debating a motion moved by the MDC-T’s Willias Madzimure as amended by ZANU PF’s Irene Zindi. The Speaker, on behalf of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders (supreme policy making organ of Parliament), ruled against establishing the ad hoc committee, citing sections of the Constitution that legally empowers the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to undertake those functions. An ad hoc committee of Parliament is established to deal with a specific issue that cannot be referred to portfolio committees. The committee is dissolved after conclusion of the task. The functions of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission are outlined in section 255 (1) of the Constitution. Among other functions, it is the responsibility of the Commission to investigate and expose cases of corruption in the public and private sectors; to direct the Commissioner-General of Police to investigate cases of suspected corruption and to report to the Commission on the results of such investigation; and to make recommendations to the Government and other persons on measures to enhance integrity and accountability and prevent improper conduct in the public and private sectors. Section 255 (2) has given some teeth to the Commission by making it obligatory on the part of the Commissioner-General of Police to comply with its directives. The Government is also required, through legislative and other means, to ensure that the Commission has power to recommend the arrest and secure the prosecution of persons reasonably suspected of corruption, abuse of power and other improper conduct which falls within the Commission’s jurisdiction. These provisions of the Constitution clarify without any doubt that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission is the one mandated to investigate suspected corruption and enforce prosecution of the offenders.  The role of Parliament is to enact the appropriate legal framework and exercise oversight on the work of the Commission. The Commission is accountable to Parliament in line with its mandate as spelt out in section 119 of the Constitution. This section says Parliament has power to ensure that provisions of the Constitution are upheld by all government institutions and agencies, and that all institutions and agencies of the State at every level are accountable to Parliament. Some people may argue that the Commission cannot effectively carry out its mandate due to inadequate funding. While funding is certainly an issue, this argument cannot justify the establishment of an ad hoc committee of Parliament. It is the duty of Parliament to ensure that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and other independent commissions established by the Constitution are adequately funded. This is what is provided for under section 325 of the Constitution. In fact, this section requires that commissions and other institutions established by the Constitution are given a reasonable opportunity to make representations to a parliamentary committee as to the funds to be allocated to them in each financial year. Sadly, Parliament passed the 2014 Budget without the commissions first appearing before a committee to make representations. Setting up another parliamentary committee to investigate corruption is therefore sheer duplication of work and a waste of public resources. Parliament has already in place portfolio committees whose terms of reference include “monitor, investigate, enquire into and make recommendations relating to any aspect of the legislative programme, budget, policy or any other matter it may consider relevant to the government department falling within the category of affairs assigned to it”.  The existing structures should therefore be strengthened to carry out their work than establish new ones which do not have capacity to carry out proper investigations. Action is what is needed and not the establishment of additional committees. The legislators should have come up with action-oriented resolutions than advocate for other structures that will require funding to carry out the mammoth task of investigations. Members of Parliament should review the Standing Orders if they feel the powers of portfolio committees are not sufficient to enable them to carry out effective oversight and weed out corruption in the management of public resources.   Section 139 of the Constitution empowers Parliament to come up with Standing Orders that provide for the appointment and functions of committees and the way in which the privileges and immunities of parliamentarians will be exercised. Lastly, it is the role of Parliament to ensure that domestic statutes on fighting corruption are fully aligned with regional and international instruments to which Zimbabwe is party to. The main ones include the SADC Protocol against Corruption, the AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption and the UN Convention against Corruption. John Makamure is the Executive Director of the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust writing in his personal capacity. Feedback: