Hebert Zharare Political Editor
The Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission is failing to access a US$3,5 million grant from the UNDP as its board remains improperly constituted following the expiry of the terms of office for all commissioners in August this year. The body’s chairman, Mr Denford Chirindo, is the only senior member whose contract is still running and according to the law the UNDP money cannot be accessed if the board is not properly constituted.

The money that was approved last year by the UN agency and was supposed to be released this year for operations, has been lying idle in a UNDP bank account.

Mr Chirindo confirmed the developments yesterday, adding the money was approved after a long time of political bickering by some commissioners who were bent on forcing the ZACC to break the law.

“We had problems with some of the commissioners insisting that I sign for the money without Government approval and I told them I did not have that mandate.

“However, all the commissioners wanted the money to come to us directly against the law and threatened to resign.
“We finally agreed and the deal was approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs. However, for us to get the money, there must be a full board. However, some members of the board were arrested including the chairman of the finance committee (Gibson Mangwiro) and we could not access it.

“We are still not properly constituted and the US$3,5 million is still with the UNDP,” he said.
However, highly placed ZACC sources insisted that the UNDP grant was delayed due to Mr Chirindo’s refusal to co-operate with other commissioners.

Although the money was not meant for salaries, insiders say it could have been used to buy cars for operations, fuel, computers and pay for premises in Mutare and Bulawayo. The ZACC has offices in Harare only.

Due to budgetary pressure, the ZACC fleet was grounded and they ended up hiring cars for commissioners from the CMED (Pvt) Ltd for US$40 000 per month.

“The situation is so bad to the extent that when we receive leads from informants, we take between four months and one year to respond especially if it’s out of Harare. By the time we go there the evidence will have been destroyed and nothing comes out.

“The vehicles are grounded and some of them have worn out tyres and cannot be repaired. There is not even fuel to conduct some investigations.

“We owe Zesa, CMED (Pvt) Ltd and some real estate companies a lot of money. How can we pursue people with serious cases involving millions of US dollars under such circumstances? For that reason big cases are swept under the carpet,” said the source.

Mr Chirindo confirmed that the ZACC, like any other Government department, faced some financial challenges.
He, however, dismissed the rest of the allegations as baseless.

He confirmed that most of the commissioners threatened to leave ZACC after he insisted that there was no money that would be channeled directly to the anti-graft body without Government approval.

The commission receives its money for operations from Treasury’s consolidated revenue fund and the money has to be approved by Parliament first.

“Funding has not been enough for us like all other Government departments.
“As  for the UNDP funds, it’s not true that I declined to sign for the money. I had to follow Government procedures and these commissioners know that.

“Our main source of funding is treasury but money from elsewhere still has to come through treasury – that is Government policy,” he said.
Commenting on the operations of the commission, Mr Chirindo said their investigators were working on cases that were approved by the out-going commissioners, adding new ones were being piled as the teams waited for the in-coming commissioners.

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