BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO
ACTING Deputy Prosecutor-General (PG) Michael Reza came under-fire yesterday for failing to prosecute 265 high-profile cases submitted by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) since 2020.
According to Zacc spokesperson John Makamure, the anti-corruption body submitted 265 cases to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) between 2020 and 2021, but there have been few to no convictions.
Various stakeholders attending a national anti-corruption indaba hosted by Transparency International Zimbabwe in Harare yesterday questioned why the NPA was sitting on the cases.
This was after Makamure said Zacc had submitted 80 cases to the NPA for prosecution in 2020, and 185 last year.
“Some of them are minor cases. For 2022, we are not looking merely at numbers, but quality of cases that we are investigating,” Makamure said.
“We are emphasising more on high-profile cases because the Constitution empowers us to refer matters to the police. There are many other complaints that come to Zacc which are of an administrative nature which we refer to relevant institutions.”
Critics have questioned President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s pledge to fight corruption owing to lack of convictions with arrested culprits being released without trial.
When he toppled late former President Robert Mugabe through a November 2017 coup, Mnangagwa pledged to fight corruption by restructuring Zacc and appointed a Special Anti-Corruption Unit to energise the graft fight.
Annual reports by Zimbabwe’s Auditor-General continue to expose unbridled corruption, extensive mismanagement and looting of State funds, but there have been no arrests.
However, the acting deputy PG denied claims that they were sitting on the dockets.
“Whatever docket is in my office, something is being done about it,” Reza said.
“There could be 500, but they are not sitting. Those dockets are being attended to. Some of them are in High Court, magistrates court, regional, provincial and some in Chitungwiza.
“There is no docket which is gathering dust at the expense of taxpayers’ money. If that were to happen I would be an embarrassment.”
In 2020, Zacc said it was investigating 77 high-profile corruption cases, with a potential prejudice of US$500 million.
An Afrobarometer survey claimed that Zimbabweans shun reporting cases of corruption fearing reprisals.
“Four out of five Zimbabweans (80%) say ordinary people risk retaliation or other negative consequences if they report corruption to the authorities, an 11-percentage-point increase from 2017,” the report said.
“Only 17% think they can report corruption without fear. Fear of retaliation or other negative consequences is more prevalent among respondents …”
Zimbabwe was listed among the most corrupt countries in the world after it was ranked 157th out of 180 countries, a Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index said.