Since the ascendency of President Emmerson Mnangagwa to power following military intervention “to restore legacy” last November, a number of former cabinet ministers have been arrested on corruption related charges.
By XOLISANI NCUBE
The move by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has raised eyebrows as it appears only members of the fallen G40 faction of Zanu PF are being targeted. Ministers and other top officials from the rival Lacoste faction who could have been facing similar charges seem to be enjoying immunity.
In a bid to understand the thrust of ZACC and why only those perceived to have been former president Robert Mugabe’s allies are being targeted by the dragnet, The Standard senior reporter Xolisani Ncube (XN) spoke to ZACC commissioner responsible for Investigations, Goodson Nguni (GN) on the drive which has so far claimed the scalps of Ignatius Chombo, Walter Chidhakwa, Walter Mzembi, Samuel Undenge and Jason Machaya among others.
XN: We have lately seen a phenomenal rise in the number of people being arrested on corruption allegations. What has necessitated this move? Has the ZACC suddenly found its teeth?
GN: There’s a new dispensation in the country. The previous regime did not want us to arrest people, high profile people who committed offenses could not be arrested. This new government is saying zero tolerance (to corruption) and it has shown this by some of the moves that we have taken. So we have been told to investigate all areas of suspected corruption and there are no sacred cows.
The main thrust of this regime is to make sure that there is no corruption. That is the reason why there is an increase in the number of cases that you are seeing. We have been given a new lease of life by the new dispensation where we have heard the president saying there is zero tolerance to corruption. The law is against corruption and we are following the law. We are a not a secret cult.
XN: There are people who are saying this move is targeting only those who were politically opposed to the new dispensation, particularly in Zanu PF’s so called G40 cabal or faction. Is that so, and if so why?
GN: Okay. Thank you very much. I know of no cabals or cabal called G40 or any other name. We are simply following the evidence that we have. The evidence suggests that the person who you allege was a member of the cabal committed an offense and our job is to go for them. If we get evidence against someone you think was not a member of the G40 cabal and the evidence is given to us we will follow it. We are not covering up for him and neither are we following any factions. We are simply following the evidence.
XN: But why targeting only those who were in the previous government and have fallen out of favour with the Mnangagwa faction? We have some in this current administration who are said to have corruption cases against them and yet nothing is happening. I am talking of the likes of ICT minister, Supa Mandiwanzira and Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu.
GN: I want to make it very clear here. We cannot investigate cases because someone is saying that this minister is actually a white man when we know he’s a black man. We follow evidence. Specifically we have not received any complaints against Minister Obert Mpofu from anybody. Secondly we received a complaint by one Reward Kangai against Minister Mandiwanzira but we also received a simultaneous report from NetOne against the same Kangai.
We investigated whether the $4 million that was alleged by Kangai was indeed paid to Megawatt. We found out that there was no $4m that was paid to anybody at Megawatt. We found out this by having a court order, raiding NetOne offices and looking at their bank statements, going to check at RBZ and to the banks. No money was ever paid by NetOne to the amount of $4m. So we disregarded that story.
But NetOne complained against Reward Kangai in substantive cases of fraud and corruption in the awarding of tenders for base stations by a company called Bopela and we are on it. Very soon we will get to some action we are going to take regarding that. So we are not covering up for any minister.
XN: The complaint by Kangai is beyond the $4 million. He talks of favouritism in the recruitment at NetOne which could border on corrupt tendencies. How have you dealt with this?
GN: Our investigators looked at the complaint and it became very clear very quickly that Mr Kangai wanted to continue working for NetOne and that he did not want anyone to employ the current acting CEO. The matter moved away from being criminal to being administrative and using administrative law. If Kangai feels that he should have continued working, he should take NetOne to court, that’s a civil matter we did not see any criminal actions by anybody in that aspect.
XN: There have been allegations against you personally as a commissioner. Some are saying you are unfit for the job. How do you respond to that?
GN: I am a Zimbabwean, I was nominated as a commissioner, and I was chosen by the Standing Rules and Orders Committee of Parliament, the former president (Mugabe) chose me to be a commissioner. Now on the commission there are people who are diverse and the constitution does not prescribe that there are specific qualifications that somebody should hold to be a commissioner.
In previous commissions nurses were appointed commissioners because of their maturity and in the eyes of the former president they were fit to appointed. What is wrong with me being Zimbabwean and I have got a lot of commercial experience. I have been a general manager long before people were general managers in this country for your information. As early as 1990 I was a senior general manager of a group of companies and as early as 1980 I was the general manager for the Holiday Group, long before anybody here had ever held such positions. I am highly experienced. So I’m equally fine.
XN: But there are allegations that you have a criminal record in South Africa, something which the constitution is clearly against in the appointment of commissioners. It states that no one with a criminal record should be appointed a commissioner.
GN: You, who is interviewing me know that it’s not true because I was never arrested. I never faced trial and that it should end right there. This was a ruse by people who were facing criminal allegations who lied about me. I have never been convicted anywhere in the world, it’s a lie. Even the former president did due diligence on me. It’s a lie which you yourself wrote about. I have forgiven you.
XN: But there are court documents to prove that you actually appeared in court facing criminal charges.
GN: I was only accused but was never convicted. Being accused does not make one a convict. So let it end there.
XN: We have heard reports that the commission is targeting the former first family any truth about that?
GN: First of all in terms of the law and constitution the former president of Zimbabwe enjoys immunity from certain actions upon retirement. Now according to the constitution the rest of the first family does not enjoy the same immunity from prosecution. We are going to follow the law, only that we do not do what we want to do emotionally.
So if there is evidence that a member of the former first family killed somebody, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, because that’s outside of our mandate, will investigate and make an arrest. If there is allegation against a member of the former first family not the president and if we receive a complaint, we will investigate that and take the matter to National Prosecuting Authority. Remember we don’t take matters to the courts ourselves. It is the National Prosecution Authority which does that.
XN: Do you have any complaint against any member of the former family which you are chasing?
GN: Yes we have received the report from the lecturers and sociology department (at the University of Zimbabwe) on how the former first lady got her doctorate and because that is a legitimate complaint there are investigators looking at it.
XN: But one would ask it seems as if ZACC is more concerned with corruption in the public sector, are you saying there is no corruption in the private sector.
GN: We are looking very much at the allegations of corruption everywhere. Corruption is not only happening in government institutions. The private sector are the biggest players of corruption and very soon and I mean very soon you will see people being arraigned before the courts for corrupt practices in the private sector. Sometimes the private sector bribes government officials and we are going to arrest those private sector people and the government officials.
XN: You are talking about allegations of private sector bribing government officials. There have been allegations against one Wicknell Chivayo over his Zesa deals. What happened to his case?
GN: First of all we don’t arrest people because such action is popular with the public. We follow the evidence.
The evidence that we have has not yet exposed Chivayo to arrest. The moment it does you will see that we will take action. Right now what we have is that he asked for an advance from ZPC and now you say we must arrest him because he asked for an advance?
It appeared to me to be a civil matter between ZPC and the person they gave money to. As for ZPC we have a right to ask why they paid $5m without asking for surety as stated in the contract. We are not leaving any stone unturned to make sure that we clean up. We are taking cue from the executive; we are going for corruption in a big way in 2018.
XN: Many are saying the anti-corruption drive is centred in Harare, are you saying there is no corruption in Nkayi, Gutu or Mutare?
GN: In 2018 we are going to seek creative outreach methods to be able to cover the whole country working with our partner’s ZRP. We are going to open satellite offices by circumventing normal budgetary provisions because we know our country is not doing well economically but we are going to open offices with our partners.
And we also want people to know that the ZRP also have a mandate to investigate corruption. People must understand that you can also go to report to ZRP cases of corruption. You can go and report to ZIMRA cases of corruption. You can go to NEIC with cases of corruption. We are not the only agency that is there. You can also report to government itself. You can report to the governors wherever they are; you can report to district officers wherever they are and they will know what to do with those complaints.