THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has lined up a series of raids in Bulawayo that will target companies, mainly parastatals and the Bulawayo City Council after receiving a number of complaints on corrupt activities in the city.
Although officials could not name other companies ZACC would circle on, they said BCC which has been at the centre of corrupt allegations which saw even the Government also instigating an investigation in the affairs of the local authority, was the prime target.
ZACC has been investigating and making arrests and last week, the anti-corruption body swooped on Harare Mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni accusing him of criminal abuse of office. The Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing is also still yet to release a report of an investigation team that was in Bulawayo in May to also probe corruption allegations levelled against the local authority.
ZACC principal public relations officer Mrs Phyllis Chikundura confirmed that the commission was headed to the second capital although she didn’t want to pre-empt how the operation will be conducted fearing to jeopardise investigations. She noted the raid have been necessitated after the body received numerous complaints of corrupt activities in Bulawayo.
“Yes, I can confirm that we will soon be coming to Bulawayo to investigate a number of issues among them the Bulawayo City Council. However, it will be too premature for me to give you all the finer details because the accused people might take advantage and start hiding evidence. When the commission is there we will contact you so that the media can be on the ground during the whole process, we want you to witness everything which we will uncover because the key issue in this process is transparency,” said Mrs Chikundura.
ZACC chief investigations officer Mr Servious Kufandada also revealed that the commission has received a number of reports from Bulawayo hence the pending investigations.
“Yes, we received reports in terms of Bulawayo but in terms of taking action on the reports it is not for me to say but for the commissioners and spokesperson Mrs Chikundura, but what I really know is that we indeed received these reports as the commission and we will soon be taking in terms of investigating and weeding out any corruption elements,” said Mr Kufandada.
Sources within the commission, however, revealed that the body was interested in perusing BCC’s finance and engineering services departments pertaining their handling of key council tenders. The sources further revealed that Bulawayo Deputy Mayor, Councillor Gift Banda was also on the radar of the commission.
“The major complaint has mainly been the manner in which the local authority is handling its tenders. On the surface there is clear evidence that there is a lot of corruption taking place within the local authority but we now have to be on the ground to gather the necessary evidence for any action to take place.
“The problem we are facing is that some of these organisations are now moving to destroy evidence but what they have to realise is that when something happens it is difficult to hide it even if they try to destroy the paper trail, the commission will certainly not relax in terms of weeding out all corrupt elements,” said the source.
The source further revealed that it was not only BCC which was going to be targeted by the commission but other State enterprises based in the city that had been reported to the commission.
“This is just part of an ongoing exercise where the commission is acting on reports regarding organisations in the city, BCC is just the one with the majority of corruption allegations levelled against them,” said the source.
Meanwhile, speaking during a Matabeleland Media Forum meeting last Friday, Affirmative Action Group (AAG) national president Mr Chamu Chiwanza commended the efforts that were being done by the Government in terms of handling the corruption. He said as a pressure group they were keeping close tabs on the matter but were highly confident that all the corrupt elements will soon be brought to book.
“A lot of ground is still to be covered within the local authority (BCC) but I am confident that the Government is certainly moving in the right direction. We want every corrupt element weeded out and we will see to it that this happens, as AAG we will also play our role in assisting the Government with whatever materials required,” said Mr Chiwanza.
The AAG and the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association have been at the forefront of exposing the corruption within the local authority. AAG and BCC have since late last year been engaged in a tug-of-war with the pressure group even approaching the High Court of Zimbabwe imploring Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Cde Saviour Kasukuwere to dissolve the local authority.