Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) — for long rapped for being a toothless bulldog — now has arresting powers as Government takes a major stride in its quest to tackle the scourge of corruption.
The changes were announced in an Extraordinary Government Gazette published last Friday through Statutory Instrument 143 of 2019.
The new regulations modified the previous legal instrument that deals with peace officers.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has — in terms of Section 2 (paragraph h) of the definition of “peace officer” under the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (Chapter 9:07) — included ZACC officers.
In terms of the law, a peace officer refers to any worker of the State, county, or a municipality, a Sheriff or other public law enforcement agency, whose duties include arrests, searches and seizures, execution of criminal and civil warrants, and is responsible for the prevention or detection of crime or for the enforcement of law or orders among other duties.
The new regulations cited as Criminal Procedure and Evidence (Designation of Peace Officers) (Amendment) Notice, 2019 (No. 3) modified Statutory Instrument 227 promulgated in 1997.
Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabiza confirmed the promulgation of the SI 143 and explained its effect.
“The statutory instrument gives powers of arrest to officers of Zacc,” she said. “This means that in addition to their special powers to fight corruption they can now arrest any person on reasonable suspicion of any other crime having been committed.”
Mrs Mabhiza added: “Peace officers hand over those under their arrest to the police to continue with investigations. Before the instrument, ZACC would simply make recommendations for the police to arrest in terms of the Constitution.”
The Commission is mandated to investigate and expose criminal cases before handing them to the police as outlined in the country’s Constitution.
It also had authority to direct police to investigate criminal cases as spelt out in the Commission’s roles.
Further, the Commission has power to direct the Commissioner-General of police to investigate cases of suspected corruption, to refer to the Prosecutor-General matters for prosecution, as well as to require assistance from members of the police.
ZACC, however, does not have prosecution functions as their function ends with handing any potential corruption cases over to the police for further management.
The Prosecutor-General working in conjunction with Special Anti-Corruption Unit prosecutors have prosecutorial discretion to initiate criminal proceedings.