AT LEAST 41 high-profile figures face imminent arrest over corruption allegations, including those sucked in a US$23 million scam at the embattled National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ).
The wide investigation net is targeting murky tender deals, government projects, land scandals and underhand dealings in banks.
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) spokesman John Makamure said dockets against 41 top-ranking government and private sector executives had already been handed to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
The names of the big fish under probe cannot be immediately released, as this can jeopardise investigations.
However, more dockets are being worked on, with 180 expected to be completed this year. Under the investigators’ hawk’s eye are 250 institutions in the public and private sectors, including the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development; allocation, occupation and corrupt sale of government houses.
To clampdown on grand corruption stalking government and state-owned entities, Zacc is setting up 20 integrity committees to plug graft loopholes.
Also under probe is the NRZ, where a jaw-dropping US$23 million was allegedly misappropriated at a time the parastatal is struggling to stay afloat and owes workers unpaid salaries. Management at NRZ is also accused of pampering itself with luxury vehicles — Toyota Land Cruisers and Fortuners — when the coffers are empty.
The alleged misappropriated US$23 million could easily turnaround the fortunes of the parastatal which has collapsed since the 1990s.
NRZ has been sinking in financial doldrums and efforts to secure US$400 million for recapitalisation flopped after the government cancelled a contract with a lethargic potential investor.
Some of the investigations underway, according to Makamure, include procurement of Covid-19 consumables by management at the National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm), the Bulawayo city council land deals and town clerk’s contract and conditions of service, the National Building Society (NBS) and Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
“We targeted 80 dockets for submission to NPA in 2020 but we surpassed that target by 10 dockets. Twenty-nine of these dockets are on trial at different stages; 15 were given trial dates in January and February while 46 are with the set down office of the NPA undergoing the normal vetting process. Forty-one of the 90 dockets are high profile cases. We achieved six convictions and three acquittals. We are targeting 180 dockets to be completed and submitted to the NPA in 2021. Priority areas will be land cases, government aided projects, electronic case management system and asset recovery,” he said.
With rampant corruption in councils, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Work has teamed up with Zacc to investigate 27 councils.
The land probe commenced in all urban councils between September and December 2020, and arrests are looming against all those who were caught on the wrong side of the law.
Said Makamure, “Public awareness campaigns undertaken target key government institutions such as Grain Marketing Board (GMB), Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) and Registrar General’s office. More institutions where high levels of corruption have been reported to be targeted in 2021.
“The department initiated a corruption prevention and capacity building exercise for 92 local authorities. Major issues included the need to establish integrity committees in councils and training in corruption prevention mechanisms. The exercise is still ongoing.”
To fight graft, Zacc was allocated ZW$71 million in 2020, ZW$317 million in 2021; ZW$407 million in 2022; and ZW$476 million in 2023
“Corruption, especially grand corruption, must be fiercely fought for this overall objective of the budget to be realised.
“One of the seven pillars of the budget is effective institution building and governance. This will entail peace and security; alignment of laws to the Constitution; property rights; social contract, state owned enterprises reform and fighting corruption
“Current staff establishment is 192 while 48 are investigators; 20 investigators seconded by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and our new structure establishment provides for 506 staff members.”
Corruption remains Zimbabwe’s headache as top public and private sector bosses line their pockets at the expense of the ailing economy.