BY VANESSA GUZHA
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) is in the eye of a storm after it summoned four Midlands provincial government officials over charges that are already before the courts.
The case has now exposed how land developers have been bankrolling Zanu PF activities.
A four-member Zacc team last week summoned the officials that were previously arrested by the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (Sacu) and charged with criminal abuse of office.
The officials include former provincial administrator Cecilia Chitiyo, who now holds the same post in Mashonaland West, former provincial lands officer Joseph Shoko, former provincial physical planner Chisayinyerwa Chibururu and former provincial housing officer Matilda Manhambo.
All, save for Shoko, have pending court cases and are on bail over the same allegations.
Former Midlands provincial governor Jaison Machaya is already serving jail term over the same issue.
Zacc claimed it had arrested the four on nine counts of criminal abuse of office.
The anti-graft body accused the four of charging prospective land developers a US$5 000 administration fee to be allocated land.
At least six developers, Zacc said, were prejudiced of US$45 000 in the scam between 2004 and 2008.
However, when the four were taken to Gweru magistrates court last Saturday, only one charge was raised against them.
The charge emanated from an offer letter that was already before the court.
Zacc also said it was basing the charges on the Justice Tendai Uchena report on state land, which is yet to be released to land developers.
The Zacc team was brandishing the report, but refused to hand it over to the officials.
Their lawyer, Esau Mandipa of Mutatu and Mandipa Legal Practice objected to them being put on remand saying no person can be charged twice over the same matter.
“They were charged with criminal abuse of office. It is only one charge,” Mandipa said.
“The charge emanated from the
US$5 000 [fee] that was charged to land developers.
“Zacc said it was not receipted by the government and was not authorised by Treasury.”
He accused Zacc of misrepresenting facts that the $5 000 was charged to developers before being allocated land.
“The charges are coming from the same offer letter that was used to charge them and the main case will be before the court on August 25,” Mandipa said.
“You cannot arrest people basing on the issue. We thought the matter was under the bridge.”
Mandipa said provincial chief law officer Samuel Pedzisai once wrote an opinion and refused to prosecute on the matter which Zacc has resurrected.
He said Pedzisai and the investigating officer, one Superintendent Chigova concurred that the money was not government money.
Mandipa said he was preparing papers to sue Zacc for falsehoods that his clients were facing nine charges.
The court was told the money was used in the Zanu PF factional fights after land developers agreed to raise funds to fund ruling party activities.
That was after former Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo ordered them to support party activities.
The money was used to buy fuel and transport youths on a campaign to fire former vice-president Joice Mujuru and to travel to Mazowe and Zanu PF headquarters for the former first lady Grace Mugabe programmes.