via Zimbabwe corrupt heavyweights escape investigation by Patrice Makova for The Standard October 20, 2013
INVESTIGATION of bigwigs suspected of corruption, have all but stalled after it emerged that the term of office for the current Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has expired.
Sources told The Standard last week that the work of the anti-graft watchdog had been paralysed with the commissioners not knowing their future after their term of office expired over a month ago.
“Most of the commissioners are reporting to work, but hardly do anything as their contracts are now overdue for renewal,” said a Zacc official. “They are not sure if their contracts will be renewed and are worried that they will leave the organisation with nothing, as most of the things they were promised including vehicles never materialised.”
Zacc chairperson, Denford Chirindo confirmed that the two-year contracts which the commissioners signed when they were appointed in 2011 expired on August 31.
He said Zacc reports to parliament through the Ministry of Home Affairs, which was well aware of the predicament facing the anti-corruption watchdog.
“We advised the minister [Home Affairs] that our term of office came to an end. We are now seeking guidance from the ministry,” said Chirindo.
Chirindo said unless Zacc was reconstituted, there was nothing the commissioners could do to investigate new cases of corruption.
He said the recent cases implicating top police officers among them Commissioner Oliver Chi-bage, and another one linking bigwigs to the poisoning of over 100 elephants in the Hwange National Park by cyanide could only be investigated once a Zacc investigating committee is set up.
But Chirindo said the fact that Zacc was not properly constituted did not mean that the organisation was not receiving reports of corruption.
“We are still receiving corruption reports and our staff will analyse these so that when the commission is re-constituted, they will be presented to the investigations committee,” he said.
Chirindo was confident that Zacc would soon be reconstituted to enable the body to continue in its fight to eradicate corruption.
“We are prepared to do that with the cooperation of other law enforcement agencies,” he said. “Once we are capacitated, we will be able to be more visible and bring positive results to the expectation of the public which is demanding zero tolerance to corruption.”
Chirindo said before the expiry of Zacc’s term of office, headway had been made in investigating several bigwigs implicated in corruption with a view to prosecuting them soon.
Zacc recently confirmed investigating several cases of prominent people implicated in corruption, including the alleged US$6 million bribe scandal at a State-owned, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).
This followed President’s Robert Mugabe’s statement alleging that former ZMDC chairman, Godwills Masimirembwa demanded and received a US$6 million bribe from William Ato Essien of Ghana, who wanted to invest in the country’s diamond sector. Masimirembwa is denying the allegations and has not been apprehended by the police following the allegations.
Apart from the case that involved former Zifa boss, Henrietta Rushwaya — who was accused of masterminding the so-called Asiagate match-fixing scandal — no other prominent personalities have been prosecuted by Zacc so far.
The case has since been dismissed by the courts.
Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono and Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo are also some of the bigwigs that Zacc confirmed investigating.
Zacc commissioners were nominated by Zanu PF and MDC-T, the former partners in the Government of National Unity (GNU) which collapsed recently.
Chirindo, a former soldier and Attorney-General’s office staffer is deputised by Terasa Mugadza, a policy consultant and former civil society practitioner.
Other commissioners are Chimwanda, a former police assistant commissioner, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, Goodwill Shana, Shepherd Gwasira, a former senior police officer and Lakayana Dube, a former senior civil servant in the President’s office.
Elita Sakupwanya, a ministerial counsellor in the ministry of foreign affairs, is also a commissioner.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) spokesperson, Thabani Nyoni said reports that Zacc was no longer properly constituted proved that the issue of dealing with corruption was all about rhetoric but no action.
He said this dates back to the Willowvale Scandal, where the Justice Wilson Sandura commission of inquiry was set up to investigate the involvement of senior officials in the corrupt purchase of vehicles, but no action was ever taken against culprits.
Nyoni said corruption was not being taken seriously, save for the few cases where the “small fish” are sacrificed, leaving the “big fish” to continue with their illegal activities.
“When they talk about fighting corruption, it will be an issue of rhetoric and grandstanding to give an impression that there is commitment,” he said. “Government should investigate all those implicated in corruption, including cabinet ministers. They must be brought to book and suspects fired.”
Home Affairs minister, Kembo Mohadi and his deputy Ziyambi Ziyambi could not be reached for comment last week, as they were not answering their mobile phones.