HARARE – Citizens have raised concerns over the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc)’s “selective” arrests of politicians, amid indications that they are leaving out the big fish that contributed to the downfall of the country’s economy.
Since November last year when the army took over government under Operation Restore Legacy, several former ministers have been arrested on various offences.
Among the list of those that have been arrested so far are former Finance minister Ignatius Chombo, former Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa, ex-Energy minister Samuel Undenge, former Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi and Highfield Member of Parliament Psychology Maziwisa.
Former Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane was once picked up by the police before being released.
The former ministers were mostly arrested on allegations of corruption and abuse of office emanating from different circumstances pertaining to the portfolios they held.
But several Zimbabweans have said most of these former ministers were associated with the Generation 40 (G40), a Zanu PF faction that was rabidly opposed to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ascendency to the presidency.
They say more should be done beyond arresting those from the G40 faction, as corruption activities were being done across the board.
“If ED (Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa) is serious about eradicating corruption he should set up a Truth Commission with immediate effect. I call for every Cabinet minister to be investigated I know for sure there is a lot of misappropriation of government funds by some of these ministries.
“ED can use the six months to come up with the Truth Commission to stop all this witch-hunting once and for all. What is coming out is only a tip in the iceberg,” former Zanu PF member Margret Dongo told the Daily News on Sunday.
Zanu PF representative in the United Kingdom, Nick Mangwana took to tweeter to comment on this issue.
“Now Cdes, let’s be serious. We have much more graft and pilferage than bags of wheat, beans, Chinese made televisions, wheel chairs, expired maize seed etc. There was grand theft happening in Zimbabwe…,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
One of the ex-ministers Chombo is being charged with fraud, criminal abuse of office and contravening the Prevention of Corruption Act during his tenure of office in the Local Government ministry with the State alleging his activities prejudiced the country of $3, 6 million.
Charges against Mzembi emanate from his decision when he was Tourism and Hospitality minister to donate 16 television screens bought by the government for the promotion of the World Cup in 2010 to churches.
The State alleged that Mzembi “criminally abused his office by intentionally and unlawfully disposing State assets namely 16 PVA televisions screens by means of donating, loaning or hiring them to various institutions and church organisations without approval from the Finance ministry”.
In Undenge’s case, the State is charging him for directing the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) to engage a private firm called Fruitful Communications to do work towards the dissemination of all ZimAsset-based projects without going to tender.
The State said this showed favour to Fruitful Communications, owned by Maziwisa and Oscar Pambuka and was contrary to his duties as a public officer, thereby prejudicing the State of $12 650.
Chidakwa is facing criminal abuse of office charges after he appointed a single person to constitute the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) board before the board member claimed $28 910 as sitting allowances.
Hlongwane’s case was a laughable one.
It was alleged the legislator had been found with several bags of sugar beans.
Following the report on Hlongwane’s “arrest”, Zimbabwean lawyer and MDC member David Coltart wrote on Twitter: “Former minister Hlongwane arrested — But I am still waiting for arguably the most corrupt minister Zimbabwe has ever had to be arrested”.
Zimbabwe has over the years suffered a serious economic meltdown that people attributed to corruption by senior government officials.
Former president Robert Mugabe once claimed the country lost $15 billion from the Chiadzwa diamond mining fields.
Since the “revelation”, people have been demanding a comprehensive probe into the issue but until now nothing has been done.
This has resulted in people concluding that current arrests are selective, political and just a drop in the ocean compared to real losses that have been suffered over the years.
Soon after Mzembi’s arrest, civil society activist Dewa Mavhinga wrote on Twitter: “Former #ZanuPF minister Mzembi arrested, & so far only perceived G40 members target in what appears to be selective law application. Job Sikhala represents Mzembi, Prof (professor Lovemore) Madhuku represented Chombo likely because some lawyers afraid to take such cases”.
Another Twitter user also wrote: “I am shocked that G40 members are such petty thieves, I must admit I thought they were stealing in untold level. Maize here, TVs there and beans over there. Disappointed. Saka (so) how was Zimbabwe bankrupted? #Zimbabwe #Junta #Corruption”.
All eyes are now on Mnangagwa to see if he can extend the corruption dragnet beyond the G40 faction.
If he does that, many will start to take his anti-corruption crusade seriously.
For now, it remains a political project to weaken his critics.