2 September 2011

Zimbabwe: Anti-Corruption Commission Sworn in

A nine member anti-corruption commission, sworn in by Robert Mugabe on Thursday, has been challenged to investigate and prosecute politicians from all the political parties without fear of favour. The commission is one of the many requirements under the power sharing deal, but fears abound that, like many other commissions, it's being cobbled together to give the appearance of progress.

This latest commission is made up of people in such fields as administration, law, religion, law enforcement and is chaired by lawyer Denford Chirindo, deputised by Teresa Pearl Mugadza. Other commissioners include Emmanuel Chimwanda, Lakayana Chabaka Keith Dube, Zivanayi Zed Rusike, Shepherd Gwasira, Anna Chitsike, Elita Tinoenda Sakupwanya and Dr Goodwill Shana.

But even before the commission begins its work several cases are sticking out like a sore thumb and demanding attention. Last year a messy divorce involving Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and his wife of 25 years, Marian, exposed the Minister's spectacular wealth, acquired while earning a modest civil servant's salary.

Documents showed that Chombo has tentacles in virtually all sectors of the economy. They include interests in several farms, mines, hunting safari lodges in Chiredzi, Hwange, Magunje and Chirundu, as well as properties in South Africa. Local properties include 75 residential and commercial stands plus 14 houses and 5 flats, all dotted around the country. Not to mention 15 vehicles.

Even when a probe team of Harare City Councillors produced a report implicating Chombo and businessman Philip Chiyangwa in the illegal acquisition of council land on the cheap, the police refused to investigate the matter. Instead the councillors were arrested and journalists who covered the saga were also arrested and harassed by the police under instruction from Chiyangwa.

In 2009 when the coalition government came into being Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai called for a probe into a controversial airport road construction deal. The 'Joshua Nkomo Expressway' meant to link the Harare International Airport and the city centre had been valued at US$80 million, despite a similar 2001 project in Chegutu covering 77km costing US$19 million. Adding to suspicion was that the airport road is actually 20km shorter than the one built in Chegutu.

SW Radio Africa reported then how Local Government Minister Chombo and former Harare Commission chairperson, Michael Mahachi, were accused of corruptly engineering the deal, that saw Ukrainian company Augur Investments being awarded the tender. When the MDC-T took over the council Mahachi was appointed a 'special interest councillor' by Chombo before he resigned a month later to become the project manager for Augur Investments.

Currently the Marange diamond fields are also being plundered by a complex network of army, police, CIO and ZANU PF senior chefs. Mines Minister Obert Mpofu for example has accumulated spectacular wealth from alleged corrupt deals and is said to have gone on a real estate shopping spree, buying properties in the Bulawayo area including the Ascot Race Course and Casino. He also bought dozens of properties in Victoria Falls.

So the anti corruption commission should be the busiest commission in the history of Zimbabwe.

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