Daniel Nemukuyu Investigations and Special Reports Editor
Forty-four serving and former Cabinet ministers, permanent secretaries, parastatal bosses and legislators are facing “imminent” arrest for corruption, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo has said. She said the commission was mainly focusing on criminal abuse of office, theft of funds, bribery and flouting of tender procedures, among other offences.
“We are working round-the-clock to ensure all the corrupt ones are brought to book. The fight against corruption is real and we will not rest until we arrest all the perpetrators of corruption,” said Justice Matanda-Moyo.
Justice Matanda-Moyo’s statement comes amid reports that some whistle-blowers yesterday visited ZACC offices with more allegations against the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs in charge of Implementation and Monitoring, Joram Gumbo.
Gumbo was being quizzed yesterday on further allegations after he and the ZACC team were recalled from court to the ZACC headquarters as whistle-blowers levelled more allegations against the former.
The minister will now be released, but be summoned for trial when investigations are complete.
Justice Matanda-Moyo said her office had received more information with the potential of generating three fresh charges against the minister.
“Following his arrest, certain informants rushed here with more evidence. We had to recall him from court in order for us to further investigate and verify the new allegations being raised.
“We are in the process of recording statements from the witnesses and we will then call him to give his side of the story later. He is likely to be charged with additional three charges,” said Justice Matanda-Moyo.
The ZACC boss said witnesses came from as far as Kariba and if the evidence is proved to be credible, Gumbo will face the extra charges.
“We will allow him to go home while we prepare the necessary papers for him to go to court,” she said.
So far, two Cabinet ministers — Gumbo and Priscah Mupfumira — have been arrested for criminal abuse of office.
Mupfumira, who was the first to be arrested, is facing an array of charges mainly related to criminal abuse of office.
Her trial has been delayed at the request of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
She was Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister at the time of her arrest, but most of the charges against her arise from offences allegedly committed during her tenure as Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister.
She is facing seven counts of criminal abuse of office involving US$95 million and her trial failed to take off on Monday due to the State’s unpreparedness.
Gumbo, was investigated for allegedly issuing corrupt directives during his tenure as Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister.
He is accused of reinstating fired Civil Aviation Authority (CAAZ) managing director David Chawota and Central Mechanical Equipment Department (CMED) managing director Davison Mhaka after the two had been legally and separately fired for misconduct by disciplinary tribunals.
He is also accused of showing favour to his relative Mavis Gumbo by arranging for her to rent out her house to Zimbabwe Airways, with the Government paying US$1 million for alterations and renovations despite the fact that she received the full rent.
Explaining Gumbo’s release, Harare lawyer Mr Gwinyai Shumba said if one is allowed to go home, they can be summoned to court when the investigations are complete.
“The 48-hour period during which one is supposed to be taken to court upon arrest only applies to those in custody.
“If one is released after being charged, there is no specific time frame in which you should be taken to court,” he said.
Mr Shumba, who served as a prosecutor for a long time, said one is considered charged upon the recording of a warned and cautioned statement.
President Mnangagwa has vowed to deal decisively with corruption which he described as deep-seated in most State institutions.
Speaking in a special Independence Day interview with ZBC at State House this year, President Mnangagwa said the various hurdles in successfully uprooting the scourge meant “the fight is so wide and deep”.
“I now realise that corruption is deep-rooted. I thought that by pronouncing that let’s fight corruption, those who are corrupt will fear and stop; it’s not like that. It’s so rooted that you have to fight it from A to Z. (In) most systems, structures and institutions, there is an element of corruption,” said President Mnangagwa.
“To fight it, you need the police to unearth, investigate; but also within the police, there is corruption. The next stage, you need prosecution, that is the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
“They need to prosecute the cases, so once the case passes the corruption in the police, it has to pass the corruption in the NPA; then it must go to the courts and there is an element of corruption in the courts. So the fight is so wide and deep.”
Fighting corruption, he said, was a collective responsibility.
The President said his office would not interfere with judicial processes.
“However, I am happy that you find people who support the fight against corruption in all these institutions. In the police, not everybody is corrupt; in prosecution institutions, not everybody is corrupt; in the Judiciary, not everybody is corrupt. So because of that we are gaining traction slowly, but not as speedily as I had expected. As you realise, there are so many cases of corruption now in the courts,” he said.
President Mnangagwa expressed frustration at the snail’s pace of some of the cases before the courts. A clean society, he added, would help the country to “develop faster” and lead to satisfactory service delivery.
President Mnangagwa committed to fight corruption by strengthening and restructuring key institutions such as the NPA, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the Special Anti-Corruption Unit in the Office of the President and Cabinet.