The law is just the law: analysing
the deﬁnition of corruption
Prosper Simbarashe Maguchu
Public International Law, Justus Liebig Universitat Giessen, Giessen, Germany
Purpose –The purpose of this paper is to highlight the shortfalls of the legal deﬁnition of corruption in
Design/methodology/approach –Deﬁning corruption is a universal challenge. Thus, in reviewing
Zimbabwes deﬁnition, this paper also draws on other common law system jurisdictions based on English
traditionsand Sharia law to make a comparative analysis. The paperalso takes a multi-disciplinary approach
that transcendﬁelds of law and anthropology.
Findings –Although criminallaw can be used as the normative basis in theﬁght against corruption, it can
also be used by the powerful to shield themselves from corruption, through its indeterminacy and
interpretation.Be this as it may, real and ﬁrm law can assist in curbing the vice.
Research limitations/implications –The paper’s purview is limited both in terms of subject and
scope. Althoughit starts by considering the deﬁnition of corruptionto get a broad overview of this subject, it
mainly focuses on the meaning of two popularconcepts that are popularly identiﬁed with our understanding
of corruption–abuse of power and public ofﬁce.
Originality/value –The paper tries to establisha framework for understanding and curbing corruption
through the use of statutorylaw.
Keywords Zimbabwe, Corruption, Criminal abuse, Public ofﬁce
Paper type Research paper
The law is too important to be toyed with. Its mankinds greatest achievement –the rule of law,
the idea that no matter who you are your actions have consquences. (“Charles McGill”).
This article, with admiration and respect, starts with a long extract from anthropologists
Anders and Nuijten (2009) on the relationshipbetween law and corruption. They argue that
law and corruption are beyond binary oppositions. Therefore, contrary to conventional
wisdom, law is not an antithesis to corruption.In their own words:
Corruption is thus at the very core of order,inscribed into the law of the nation-state. [...],
it is because of this close and contradictory relationship with the formal legal order that
corruption is surrounded by gossip, rumors, conspiracy, and accusations. Drawing on the
insight that law and its negation are opposites that are constitutive of each other and for that
reason cannot exist without each other avoids the reiﬁcation of the dualism between the legal
and the illegal, transparency and secrecy. The possibility of its transgression or perversion is
always already inscribed into the law as hidden possibility. This, then, is the secret of law
(Anders and Nuijten, 2009,p.12).
The extract above mirrors thecurrent situation in Zimbabwe as this article will bring to
Journalof Financial Crime
Vol.25 No. 2, 2018
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