Augustine Mukaro/ Clemence Manyukwe
GOVERNMENT’S renewed anti-corruption drive is expected to net more high-profile figures in a cleansing exercise which insiders say
will test the power balance in the fractured Zanu PF party.
This week, deputy Information minister Bright Matonga was arrested on corruption charges together with Zupco board chairman Charles Nherera. Business mogul John Bredenkamp was also arrested on charges of flouting the country’s immigration laws by travelling on a South African passport. Sources this week said police had widened their probe of Bredenkamp who has been linked to the succession struggles in Zanu PF.
The Zimbabwe Independent this week heard that Bredenkamp has been linked to a new grouping in Zanu PF which has been pushing for an exit package for President Mugabe.
The sources said the group — seen as moderates in the party — wanted to rope in Bredenkamp to bankroll the initiative. Efforts to get comment from Bredenkamp failed as his spokesman said he was “under instructions not to talk to the press”.
Zanu PF sources yesterday said the arrest of Matonga had its roots in the Mashonaland West power struggles in which the deputy minister is involved in a fight for land with farmer Tom Beattie, a self-confessed financier of the ruling party. A party source said there were senior Zanu PF officials in the province who had sided with Beattie in the struggle. “Matonga is paying the price,” the source said.
This week’s arrests come in the wake of President Robert Mugabe’s pronouncements that graft laws would be amended to strengthen prevention, investigation, prosecution and punishment of corruption and related economic crimes.
Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies minister Paul Mangwana said government had re-invigorated the anti-corruption drive which would result in a number of high-profile personalities being arraigned before the courts.
“People are being arrested and the arrests will continue,” Mangwana said. “There is no (new) operation that we are carrying out but it’s merely a continuation of the anti-corruption drive. There is no deliberate policy to target anyone whether in a high or low position.”
Ruling party sources said the arrest of Matonga had sent tremors through the Zanu PF establishment as police had been asked to investigate more high-profile persons in the Zupco corruption case and the allocation of Operation Garikai houses.
To bolster its resolve to deal with undesirables, Zanu PF has hired a private firm to probe the failure of the party’s businesses. This followed another probe two years ago whose results were deemed to be inconclusive.The party sources said the intensification of the crackdown in Zanu PF would define the camps in the party as those fingered in the probe would “coalesce around their godfather for protection”.
“Victims have an option to toe the line or face the music,” a source said.
The sources said internal and external audits into Zanu PF companies would be one of the main bases for the fresh blitz.
The party’s politburo had previously set up two committees chaired by Zanu PF’s secretary for finance David Karimanzira.
Analysts have interpreted the committees’ mission as having been intended to push former secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa out of Zanu PF’s succession stakes.
The first probe team into Zanu PF’s financial empire unearthed a number of irregularities in the running of the party’s companies. Among the companies that were said to have virtually collapsed were M&S Syndicate, Zidco Holdings and Zidlee Enterprises.
External auditors Kudenga & Co chartered accountants, have also submitted a report on the state of the party’s companies.
Mnangagwa used to preside over the ruling party’s funds and investments before he was replaced by Karimanzira.
Officially opening the second session of parliament in Harare on Tuesday, Mugabe said the Anti-Corruption Commission Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act would be amended to strengthen them. He said the Police Act would be amended to enhance the operational efficiency of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
He said the Suppression of Foreign and International Terrorism Bill, which empowers the police to deal with transnational terrorism will be brought to parliament, while the United Nations Convention on Transnational Crime, together with the Sadc Protocol on Extradition, which fosters cooperation in the prevention and suppression of crime in the region, will be brought before parliament for ratification this year.