Africa Moyo Deputy News Editor
GOVERNMENT says the ongoing anti-corruption drive is “not a fluke”, but a sustained operation running until the scourge of corruption is eradicated.
The Government is also urging citizens to be patient with both the reconfigured Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the courts.
Further, Government says citizens should not expect everyone arrested to be jailed immediately without being afforded an opportunity to defend themselves in court in line with the Constitution.
In an interview yesterday, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said all processes should be followed from investigation to arrest and trial.
The interview comes following the high-profile arrest of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Ministry Prisca Mupfumira.
Minister Ziyambi said corruption involved sophisticated and wealthy individuals who make every effort to erase their footprints, making the job of investigators complex.
“What is happening is not a fluke, we are determined to ensure that whoever has a case to answer, they must have their day in court, which is normal because you can only be proved to be guilty when the due process has been done,” said Minister Ziyambi.
“I think people should be patient in the efforts that are being done to try to eradicate corruption. Corruption is a complex thing where those that are involved have (i) money and (ii) both parties will try to conceal the transaction.
“So where an arrest has been done, don’t expect a conviction there and then. Allow the due process to go on and then when nothing has happened, then you comment.”
Minister Ziyambi said the current fight against corruption was not a window-dressing exercise meant to create the impression that Government was fighting corruption, but real war to free society of the cancer.
Fighting corruption is seen as critical in the attainment of Vision 2030 of an Upper Middle Income status where citizens have decent jobs and a per capita income of US$3 500.
Minister Ziyambi said given the “lessons learnt” from the past on spearheading the anti-corruption drive, Government now “certainly has the passion to do the correct things”.
This comes as suspected corrupt people were previously arrested and later went scot-free after the State failed to provide irrefutable evidence.
Said Minister Ziyambi: “The President (Mnangagwa) came up with a new anti-corruption commission. They are doing their work; I think there is need to give them a chance to prove themselves that they can’t do it.
“Where there are traces that something has been done, there are procedures that are followed to ensure justice prevails. And this is what is happening.
“So I do not know why people want somebody to be arrested today, the trial is conducted the same day and judgment is done the same day; it has never happened in cases of corruption. Maybe we will be the first country in the world (to do that) given the very nature of corruption.”
He said corruption was different from a “petty crime of theft, where somebody walks into the court and pleads guilty”.
“But by its very nature, corruption cases are complex, you need to ring-fence what you have found, and ensure that evidence is not tampered with.
“So these are processes that are happening and I think members of the public should applaud the (new) administration that we are now walking the talk,” he said.
Asked why the State invoked Section 32 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, which allows it to seek further detention of a suspect up to 21 days, instead of investigating first in order to arrest, Minister Ziyambi said the Prosecutor-General “would ordinarily be able to answer”.
“For me, it’s a provision in our law that allows that we secure certain evidence. In their wisdom, they know why they did it. So I think the lawmakers, when they made sure we have such a provision, there are certain safeguards that they wanted to happen. So that question does not arise.
“The fact that it is allowed, the prosecutors applied for that provision to be invoked, means after perusing the documents that he was given, means there are certain provisions that he wants to do during that specific period,” said Minister Ziyambi.