Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has recovered over $10 million since it assumed office and has vowed to continue pouncing on Government officials who abuse their positions for self-enrichment or interfere with judicial processes.
The money was recovered mainly from tax evaders and individuals who had acquired illicit wealth.
The anti-graft body also asserts that the recent arrest of former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko was not politically-motivated and the independent body does not take instructions from anywhere to pounce on suspected law-breakers.
ZACC spokesperson Mr John Makamure said Mphoko’s arrest sought to finalise a case which the previous commission had failed to dispose of.
He said ZACC had so far recovered over $10 million from its corruption busting efforts, but said the figure could be more if Parliament expeditiously passes the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Amendment Bill (2019) which is before the House.
The Bill empowers corruption-fighting State agents like the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), Zacc and the police to demand explanations from people who flaunt wealth above their known legitimate means.
“Zacc is now prioritising revenue and asset recovery. Those who have stolen Government revenue or misuse Government assets will be pursued, Zacc is keen to recover those assets. So far Zacc is pleased with its achievement in that regard. Since we came into office, Zacc has managed to recover over $10 million that has since been paid to Zimra, through Zacc’s efforts. So we want to intensify recovery. We need to intensify revenue recovery so that it aids economic recovery,” said Mr Makamure.
Under the Bill, law enforcement agents will have powers to question people leading flamboyant and swanky lifestyles from inexplicable sources of income, as the Government moves in to curb corruption, money laundering and tax evasion, among other vices.
Those who fail to explain or hide useful information pertaining to the source of their wealth will be jailed up to two years, while the tainted property will be forfeited to the State.
“I would like to call upon Parliament to expeditiously pass legislation to do with unexplained wealth because that will facilitate Zacc to be able to ensure that ill-gotten wealth, wealth that was acquired through corrupt activities is forfeited to the State. There is a law that is before Parliament for someone to explain how you acquired that wealth. Parliament must quickly pass that law to facilitate our work. The point is asset and revenue recovery is very important, we need enabling legislation,” said Mr Makamure.
Turning to the arrest of former VP Mphoko, Mr Makamure said Zacc did not act on the directive of anyone but merely exercised its constitutional duty and obligation to fight crime whenever it reared its ugly head.
Mr Makamure was responding to some media reports that sought to cast aspersions that the arrest of VP Mphoko was politically motivated.
“We look at the story as an attempt by certain sections of the media to divert public attention from a serious case of abuse of office by the former Vice President. This is not a new case, it is a case that happened in 2016 or thereabout, so what ZACC simply did was to finalise that matter. The previous commission was unable to finalise it probably because of their own ineptitude. But the new ZACC simply took over that matter and we are finalising it, so there has been no attempt by anyone to direct us to deal with the matter in a certain way. The matter is now before the courts which the previous commission was unable to do,” said Mr Makamure.
“ZACC is guided by the Constitution, which is very clear that there should be no interference by anyone and we have not come across that interference. On the contrary, the highest political office has been very supportive as evidenced by His Excellency President Mnangagwa being the Guest of Honour at our national Anti-Corruption Awareness launch, a joint programme between us and the National Prosecuting Authority. Also Government recently gave ZACC additional funding through supplementary budget, funding which we believe will enable us to carry our operations. We are grateful of the additional funding we got. This is what the Government should be seen to be doing because the Constitution requires that independent Commissions be adequately funded.”
He said Zacc will arrest anyone who upon reasonable grounds was suspected to have committed corruption or abused his or her office.
“The former VP’s case must send a strong signal that ZACC will pounce at anyone who abuse his or her social status to interfere with judicial processes. So Zacc, without fear or favour will pounce at anyone who interfere with judicial processes, that is a serious case of abuse of office. Let me say that the fight against corruption is a fight that requires everyone’s participation including the media. The media is a strong ally in this fight,” he said.