via ZACC investigating Masimirembwa | The Financial Gazette 21 Nov 2013
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) is investigating former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) chairperson Goodwills Masimirembwa’s US$6 million bribery case as part of its mandate of fighting corruption.Masimirembwa was implicated in the bribery case by President Robert Mugabe who revealed in September this year that the former ZMDC chairperson had allegedly demanded a US$6 million bribe from William Ato Essien, a Ghanaian national who wanted to invest in the country’s diamond sector.
Since then the police have been investigating the matter.
Police recently indicated that they were waiting for an official complaint from Ato Essien as part of their investigations but the Ghanaian has not shown up, raising fears that the case might collapse.
This week, ZACC chairperson Denford Chirindo, said they were also pursuing the case although he did not say much about their investigations.
Observers say Essien’s failure to file an official complaint could also present challenges for ZACC in the sense that its investigations would also remain inconclusive.
Essien has not set foot in Zimbabwe ever since the scandal broke out four months ago.
Chirindo also told the Financial Gazette that ZACC was working on other cases inherited from the previous commissioners.
“We are at the moment working on the cases that were sanctioned by the previous commission whose term came to an end on August 31. There are those cases that had been decided that the commission should work on that we are working on,” he said, without dislosing the cases.
However, many do not believe the commission will effectively bring anyone to book. At least not the big fish.
Corruption in Zimbabwe has reached unprecedented levels, prompting President Mugabe to declare zero-tolerance on the vice.
But since its inception more than eight years ago, ZACC is yet to justify its existence by combating corruption, economic crimes, abuse of power and other improprieties, which are on the increase.
Many people question the independence of the commission since it is not appointed by Parliament and is subservient to the Home Affairs Ministry.
It also lacks arresting powers, which means it has to work through other arms of government in the discharge of its duties, including the police.
The fact that its commissioners are appointed by the Executive also diminishes their ability to tackle politically sensitive cases.
In addition to its lack of independence, ZACC is also hamstrung by financial constraints and is severely understaffed. At the last count, it had 57 employees out of a possible 204.
The fact that ZACC is funded by the government also deprives it of its independence as it must kowtow to the whims of the one holding the purse strings.
Dumisani Mpofu, a political analyst, said government must reconstitute ZACC to give it sharp teeth to bite those who dabble in acts of corruption.
“The problem with ZACC is its composition, which makes it a useless commission. I was hoping that after elections it would be re-constituted,” he said.
Thabani Nyoni, another analyst, said there was also political interference in the operations of the commission, and this undermines ZACC’s effectiveness.
“We have seen examples where anti-corruption commission members or staff become arrested or detained when they start investigating other officials. There is no independence in ZACC, there is constant interference in the commission’ work and this includes political interference,” he said.
This was in reference to a recent incident where ZACC members were arrested for attempting to investigate three government officialsfor undisclosed allegations.
Chirindo, however, insisted this week that ZACC was an independent commission as provided for in the Constitution, which is the supreme law.