Graft busters probe US$1bn tender scams Mr Mpofu

Fungi Kwaramba

Political Editor

UNDETERRED by smear campaigns from criminal syndicates, corruption busters in Zimbabwe are working on high-profile cases involving ministers, senior police officers and members of the Judiciary, with the spotlight also on City of Harare over the handling of tenders amounting to US$1 billion.

And as the anti-graft crusade gathers pace, resulting in the arrest of police commissioners, powerful socialites, mayors and ministers, those involved in sleaze are trying to devise ways of wriggling themselves out of their acts by seeking to politicise the process, a report compiled by Mr Tabani Mpofu, head of the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (SACU) in the Office of the President and Cabinet reveals.

With President Mnangagwa declaring zero-tolerance to corruption, a pervasive vice that has stunted national economic growth, anti-corruption bodies that include the police, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) are working round the clock to stamp out the vice, which affects and burdens the ordinary person.

“Corruption has a direct and adverse effect on the society within which it is practised. There is no better illustration of this fact than the dire circumstances that residents of Harare and other urban centres find themselves in. Service delivery in Harare has deteriorated to such an extent that garbage collection is almost non-existent in most suburbs with many urban centres going for decades without running water.

“It is for that reason that urban city councils have been targeted in the anti-corruption fight. The results of this deliberate thrust are evident. The anti-corruption fight in urban councils has led to the arrest of the Harare Mayor, Councillor Herbert Gomba, the Town Clerk Hosea Chisango, Chitungwiza City Mayor, Councillor Lovemore Maiko and many councillors as well as council officials. Currently, investigations are being carried out on the alleged irregular handling of a US$1 000 000 000 tender by the Harare City Council with the role of the Harare Town Clerk being placed under serious scrutiny,” said the report.

According to the report, the MDC-Alliance run Harare City Council allegedly awarded four Chinese companies tenders to construct a sewage treatment plant and carry out the expansion of another.

In addition, they were also tasked with the rehabilitation of water distribution plants in various Harare suburbs. However, the tenders were not advertised resulting in a non-competitive tender process.

There is, however, no politics in the anti-graft crusade that has in the past few years seen two Cabinet ministers namely Dr Obadiah Moyo and Ms Priscah Mupfumira being fired after they were implicated in corruption dealings. The two have pending cases at the courts.

To ensure the corruption blitz succeeds, dozens of police officers have been arrested over the past few months, with the highest ranking officers who have been apprehended on allegations of corruption being Commissioner Douglas Nyakutsikwa, the Head of the Police Internal Security and Intelligence Unit (PISI) and Commissioner Crispen Charumbira, Head of the ZRP Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

“The success of the Anti-corruption Programme in Zimbabwe will rely substantially on the integrity of our law enforcement agents and a Judiciary beyond reproach. To achieve this, these agencies are undergoing a cleaning up exercise that has seen the ejection of those with corrupt tendencies from these institutions. 

“The results of this clean-up operation within the ZRP is already showing dividends. The gold sector, for long plagued by corruption, and the outlet for the haemorrhaging of significant amounts of gold being smuggled out of the country to destinations in South Africa and Dubai has been a central focus,” read the report in part.

This follows reports that over the years high ranking police officers have interfered with operations to curb the smuggling of precious metals and minerals from the country by protecting smugglers from arrest and prosecution.

However, complex and well-resourced corruption syndicates are trying to fight back through orchestrated campaigns that seek to smear heads of bodies fighting corruption such as the Chief Justice Luke Malaba.

“Corruption is a universal phenomenon that carries uniform characteristics throughout the world wherever it manifests. Its most notable characteristic is that whenever it is confronted it fights back with venom and ferocity. Since the corrupt cannot organise themselves into groupings or a club that identify them as such, their response or push-back against corruption is conducted in many guises most of which masquerade as noble causes or legitimate commentary.

“The corrupt throughout the world are well resourced. They are therefore able to acquire the services of competent and experienced lawyers, politicians, highly effective public relations consultants and individuals from respected professions such as academia and journalism to do their bidding.”

To cover-up their corrupt tracks, the criminal syndicates have employed dirty tactics that include name dropping, alleging factionalism or political persecution.

“This in turn is meant to ultimately create paralysis within the institutions thereby rendering their efforts ineffective. Those of us working on the country’s anti-corruption drive want to reassure the citizens of Zimbabwe that we will not be deterred by these dirty tactics which consist of smear campaigns and attempts at character assassination,” the report said.

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