COMMISSIONERS of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) now fear for their lives after attempting to investigate high-level corruption in government, a cabinet minister said last week.
BY PATRICE MAKOVA
Home Affairs co-minister, Theresa Makone said she had assured the commissioners of their safety since they had the backing of President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara in their pursuit to tackle corruption.
“They [commissioners] were telling me that they now fear for their lives and those of their families,” Makone said. “The hate speech that has come out of certain sections of the press confirms the sense of impunity and entitlement that some have accorded themselves.”
Makone could however not say whether the commissioners had received death threats.
But Zacc sources confirmed to The Standard that both commissioners and anti-graft investigators were being tailed by suspicious people.
Makone met the commissioners in the wake of the ongoing clampdown on Zacc after the anti-graft body’s efforts to investigate corruption allegations against three Zanu PF cabinet ministers, the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board was blocked.
The clampdown has seen the arrests of Zacc chief executive officer, Ngonidzashe Gumbo and commissioner, Emmanuel Chimwanda on different charges.
Zacc staffers, among them general manager (investigations), Sukai Tongogara and general manager (prevention) Edwin Mubataripi have also been repeatedly questioned by the police.
But Makone said the three principals at their Monday afternoon meeting last week reiterated their support of Zacc.
She said principals urged Zacc to carry out its duties without fear or favour, but following the established guidelines.
Makone said Zacc commissioners were appointed by Mugabe to serve the people by stamping out corruption which has become a scourge and an enemy of development and should therefore be encouraged, not impeded or hounded.
She also said she and her colleague, Kembo Mohadi of Zanu PF, were also fully behind Zacc efforts to rid the country of all forms of corruption.
Makone said no one was untouchable, adding Zacc was not given a list of offices that were exempted from scrutiny.
“Where they will make procedural errors, they should be corrected and not treated as dangerous criminals,” said the Home Affairs co-minister. “If and when they investigate anyone, it may even serve to restore someone’s good name when that person is publicly cleared. The public has the right to know if the wealth we tout in front of them is honestly earned, especially when it does not match our earning capacity. The public has the right to question every move that public servants make on their behalf.”
Makone said her ministry had never received any evidence or information to the effect that the commissioners that were sworn in, in August 2011, had ever received any bribe, or misappropriated anything at any time.
“We can say so categorically, because they have never been allocated anything by Treasury or the Ministry of Home Affairs for them to misappropriate,” said Makone.
She said the commissioners were not answerable for any omissions or commissions of previous commissions, or for any improprieties of the quasi-fiscal days, which pre-date their tenure.
Makone said the current commissioners were entitled to SUV vehicles, accommodation, personal security, and offices countrywide, but almost two years into their tenure, the government was still to make good its side of the bargain.
She said the Home Affairs ministry would continue to impress upon Treasury to make available to the commission what government owes its members.
Zacc has been under attack from senior Zanu PF officials who are using both the State media and social networking sites to discredit the body.
The anti-graft body is chaired by Denford Chirindo, a former soldier and Attorney-General’s office staffer. His deputy is 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.
Dr Elita Sakupwanya, a ministerial counsellor in the ministry of foreign affairs, is also a commissioner.
Clampdown targeted big fish
Zacc was stopped from investigating ZMDC, NIEEB and Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu and Minister of Transport Nicholas Goche.
The clampdown has also seen Makone’s colleague, Mohadi suddenly withdrawing Gumbo as Zacc’s chief executive officer, a few days before he was arrested on fraud charges.
Zacc is supposed to be independent in terms of the Constitution, but the reality on the ground has shown that it is politicians who call the shots.