BY VANESSA GONYE/MOSES MATENGA
THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) yesterday exposed massive looting by senior government officials and parastatal bosses, accusing line ministries tasked with playing an oversight role of “sleeping on duty”.
Zacc chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo told a virtual annual general meeting (AGM) that corruption was rife in government, parastatals and other entities.
She said a probe would soon be instituted to “fish out” those involved in graft.
“As a result of these compliance checks, as Zacc, we have noted that ministries that have an oversight role on State enterprises and parastatals are a cause for concern,” she said.
“Equally, companies run by majority shareholders or family businesses are of serious concern in terms of their adherence to corporate governance principles.”
Successive reports by Auditor-General Mildred Chiri have implicated government ministries and State enterprises in massive corruption that has prejudiced the country of billions.
Matanda-Moyo said the government should urgently review powers of ministries over State enterprises and parastatals under their watch.
“The government needs to urgently review the powers of ministries over State enterprises and parastatals under their purview to stem this culture of looting,” she said.
“It is our wish as Zacc that legislation amendments be made to the Anti-Corruption Commission Act to provide sanctions for non-compliance. It is not a secret that corruption in Zimbabwe is rampant in all sectors of our economy; that is, in government, State enterprises and parastatals, NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and the private sector. In 2019, Zimbabwe was ranked 159/180 on the Corruption Perception Index. Thus, we set ourselves some tough hurdles and challenging targets.”
Matanda-Moyo said Chiri’s reports had given the commission a starting point to deal with corrupt officials in ministries and parastatals.
“We received reports of the Auditor-General of Zimbabwe, tabled in Parliament. The contents of the reports gave rise to reasonable suspicion of incidents of either corruption, theft, misappropriation, abuse of power and/or other improper conduct in the public sector,” Matanda-Moyo said.
“In the circumstances and on the basis of the report of the Auditor-General of Zimbabwe, Zacc opened active investigations in respect of all ministries, government departments and State enterprises implicated in the report with a view of bringing to book all those implicated in any and all acts of corruption, theft, misappropriation, abuse of power and other improper conduct.”
On allegations that the financial books of Zacc itself were in a shambles, Matanda-Moyo said: “When the commission took office, we found that the previous financial statements from 2012 had not been done and neither were they audited.”
Matanda-Moyo said in 2019, Zimbabwe was ranked 159/180 on the Corruption Perception Index prompting them to set some targets to reduce corruption.
“I am delighted to report that we met these targets and indeed, in several areas, we exceeded them,” she said.
“These results were achieved despite some major challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic and resistance and interference from some individuals in offices of high authority. This makes the performance even more pleasing.”
The Zacc chairperson said they have stepped up efforts to curb corruption in line with calls to fight the vice.
“To date, Zacc has received a total of 157 high-profile cases and has investigated 76. Zacc engaged the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) who provided experienced staff to boost investigations,” she said.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has repeatedly threatened to weed out corruption and established an anti-graft unit in his office, the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (Sacu) headed by Thabani Vusa Mpofu to show his resolve to fight the scourge.
But Sacu has been accused of corruption and pursuing a political agenda to persecute Mnangagwa’s political foes.
Both Zacc and Sacu have also been accused of targeting small fish, leaving out government ministers and bosses to public entities who were the main culprits.
While the government claims sanctions imposed on the country by the West over two decades ago were the cause of the economic downturn, observers, who include Western embassies, say corruption was at the centre of the deteriorating economic situation.