The Sunday News
Khumbula Vodloza Sibanda
FOR a long time people have been accusing Zanu-PF and President Mnangagwa in particular of not doing enough to deal with corruption.
These critics accused the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) of being a toothless bulldog which had never secured a conviction for any corruption suspect. In announcing her arrival the newly appointed Zacc chairperson, Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo did not mince her words.
“While other countries are closing their prisons for the lack of clients, Zimbabwe prisons will be open for business. We will leave no stone unturned to ensure that everybody who is engaging in corrupt activities is brought to book,” she said.
She really means business and has vowed that corrupt people from across the political divide will have their day in court.
Justice Matanda-Moyo hit the ground running in a paratrooper style which has sent shivers down the spines of those who had been surviving on corruption. When she announced that she had received a copy of the Nssa audit report, the panicked self-exiled former Zanu-PF Politburo member, Professor Jonathan Moyo, took to micro blogging site, Twitter and ran threads of eight and 24 tweets, respectively, huffing and puffing trying in vain to dismiss the new sheriff.
Quick word to those who lived on ill-gotten wealth: this iron lady will take you to the cleaners in the Biblical “twinkling of an eye” style.
Justice Matanda-Moyo is not new to authority. Pertaining to the liberation struggle, she is a war veteran and touching the law hitherto she was a Judge of the High Court. Those living on the other side of the law are in for a rude awakening.
The Government should ensure Zacc is capacitated to ensure work is effectively and efficiently carried out. This is against the background of lack of resources and understaffing. Zacc is reported to be operating with only three vehicles against 90 investigators alluded the new Zacc boss. In order to expedite the clearing of cases, Justice Matanda-Moyo has called for the recruitment of more officers and the availing of adequate resources to clear the cases backlog and tackle new ones.
In terms of docket management, she noted that it was proving to be a mammoth task to locate a docket and pledged to improve the commission’s document management and filing systems. Dockets need to be allocated at the click of a button as the country is pushing for wider usage of e-government systems.
The revelation over the weekend that some dockets at Zacc had vanished into thin air clearly vindicates Justice Matanda-Moyo’s concerns. One thing that she also noted was that the commission has an unsecure website which can be tampered with by anyone. Justice Matanda-Moyo also observed that the Zacc website was prone to hacking and that the commission was likely to lose vital information in the process. A stitch in time saves nine, so goes the old adage.
She wants to ensure that no information will be lost. In this information and computer age, hackers are prowling on the internet hunting for unprotected information and Justice Matanda-Moyo does not want such a thing to happen under her purview.
As a way of keeping up with trends on the cyber space, Justice Matanda -Moyo opened a Twitter account @matandamoyo which has garnered more than 6 871 followers beating that of Zacc which is standing at 6 510 followers. This shows the popularity that she draws in her new portfolio.
Exciting times are now beckoning at Zacc as the commission was given powers to arrest suspects. Gone are the days when police officers were frustrating the course of justice by accepting bribes from culprits and avoiding effecting arrests or doing shoddy investigation jobs which resulted in undeserved acquittals. Statutory Instrument 143 of 2019 empowers Zacc to arrest anyone where there is reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed.
True to Justice Matanda-Moyo’s word recently, the Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Prisca Mupfumira was nabbed by Zacc over various charges of corruption at Nssa involving a total value of US$95 million. The arrest of Mupfumira has sent shockwaves across the country especially to those who were drawing their living from corrupt activities.
The arrest of former Director of State Residences, Douglas Tapfuma on 30 July, respectively, is a foretaste of things to come and no one is immune from prosecution. Contrary to the charges from some quarters that Zacc’s efforts were only targeting senior Zanu-PF members, two senior MDC-Alliance officials are likely to have their day in court soon.
During the GNU days, one attempted to force Nssa to pour funding into a now-defunct bank. When that failed, he allegedly arm-twisted the Nssa board to agree to purchase the bank which was later renamed, which folded its operations in 2013. Relatedly, he allegedly channelled millions of US dollars in public funds to a bank in return for a cut. Unfortunately for him the bank closed without returning the money.
The other has tough questions to answer with regards to the Essar deal for the revival of Ziscosteel by the Indian company and the Distressed Industries and Marginalised Areas Fund (DIMAF). The cases of the two clearly show that even the MDC, which is good at pointing fingers at Zanu-PF when it comes to corruption, is also not clean. The rot in the MDC is deep-seated and these two cases are only a tip of the iceberg.
Since the coming in of Justice Matanda-Moyo, 200 cases have since been reported to the commission, 10 of which are high profile ones. Of these 10 high profile cases one has already led to the arrest of Zinara Director of Finance, Simon Taranhike whose case is now being handled by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for trial.
Auditor-General, Mildred Chiri’s 540-page report for 2018 would provide rich pickings for the new Zacc boss to bring the culprits to book. A close perusal of the report shows that officials were feasting on public funds at the expense of national development, earning Government a bad name, resultantly, leading to poor service delivery.
Even the vocal Independent Norton Member of Parliament, Temba Mliswa has come out in support of Zacc’s stance on ridding society of corruption. He was in particular impressed by the arrest of Minister Mupfumira. Members of the public welcomed the impression made by President Mnangagwa on corruption when he said that there would be no sacred cows in the ongoing anti-graft fight.