US$135m unexplained wealth under scrutiny

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

US$135m unexplained wealth under scrutiny 
Mr Michael Reza

Ivan Zhakata, Herald Correspondent

Unexplained wealth orders and civil forfeiture worth over US$135 million have been referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) following the processing of 39 such cases by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC).

This comes as the anti-graft body received 999 reports of suspected corruption in 2023, a 46 percent increase from the number of cases recorded in 2022.

Speaking during the ZACC annual general meeting on Thursday, the commission’s chairperson Mr Michael Reza said the increase in cases reported highlighted increased consciousness among citizens.

Mr Reza said it was also an indication of improved trust in ZACC’s commitment to combating corruption.

“The commission intensified efforts of dispossessing the ill-gotten assets and ensuring that the assets are forfeited to the State,” he said.

“To this end, a total of 39 case files for both unexplained wealth orders and civil forfeiture, valued at US$135 196 250.03 were referred to the National Prosecuting Authority.”

Mr Reza said after thorough investigations on various matters, ZACC referred 264 dockets to the NPA, marking a 97 percent increase from the previous year.

A total of 41 cases were concluded by the courts with ZACC achieving a 71 percent conviction rate.

Mr Reza said Vision 2030 and the national development aspirations espoused in the National Development Strategy (NDS1) cannot be achieved if corruption, both in the public and private sectors, is not curbed.

“Corruption is the domain for white collar criminals who devise sophisticated ways of hiding the proceeds of crime.

“Fighting corruption is not a sole enterprise. The Commission conducted joint investigations with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and the Zimbabwe Republic Police in complex cases involving the Premier Service Medical Aid Society and the Civil Servants Vehicle Rebate Scheme,” he said.

“These inter-agency collaborations enhanced our relations, prevented duplication of efforts, and allowed us to share expertise, thereby strengthening our collective ability to fight corruption.”

Mr Reza said emphasis was largely on prevention than cure and the dictum applied even in the fight against corruption.

He said the Commission has been proactive in preventing corruption through various preventive measures.

“Compliance assessments and systems reviews were carried out in numerous institutions, ensuring that vulnerable areas are promptly attended to,” Mr Reza said.

“Through these diligent efforts, we have created a robust framework that supports transparency and accountability, fostering a culture where corruption is not tolerated. Integrity is the only currency that is not subjected to inflation.

“It provides moral and ethical clarity, ensuring that individuals involve themselves in righteous actions. Guided by the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS), the commission is working to cultivate the culture of integrity, both in the public and private sectors,” said Mr Reza.

He said Integrity Committees were established to integrate anti-corruption measures into the daily operations of various institutions in the country.

Mr Reza said these committees have a responsibility to promote ethical practices, strengthen governance and implement tailored corruption prevention plans.

“To complement institutional measures, the Commission also intensified appeals at individual level through Integrity Pledges,” he said.

“These pledges are critical, as individuals voluntarily commit to ethical conduct in their own spheres of influence.

“The commission continues to ensure that no one and no place is left behind in the fight against corruption, rolling out comprehensive anti-corruption campaigns across the country.”

In intensify the fight against corruption Zimbabwe created the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) to enable the unlawful proceeds of all serious crimes and terrorist acts to be identified, traced, frozen, seized and eventually confiscated.