Zimbabwe: 'Corrupt Officials Quake in Their Boots'

A number of cabinet ministers, parastatal bosses and other senior government officials are quaking in their boots amid reports that the long arm of the law is catching up with public and private sector officials implicated in high-level corruption.

Sources yesterday said following remarks by President Robert Mugabe last week that corrupt officials should be locked up; the different law enforcement agencies had sprung into action with indications that arrests were imminent.

An official close to ongoing investigations said Mugabe's statement during an interview with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) to mark his 90th birthday, had set the tone for the arrest of bigwigs implicated in corrupt deals.

He said quite a few cabinet ministers and Zanu PF politburo members were under investigation after they were implicated in corrupt deals involving parastatals and other state enterprises.

"Crimes were committed and the police and Prosecutor General are seized with quite a few cases involving top officials," said the official.

"There is great panic, even among members of the security forces who are suspected of protecting some of the individuals implicated in corruption. The net is closing in on those members of the security sector who were offered shares and money to scupper investigations of top business executives fingered in fraudulent deals."

He said a crack team from the President's office which is leading investigations had been instructed to leave no stone unturned in its investigations as Mugabe was determined to leave a "clean" legacy.

The official said Mugabe openly showed his displeasure at some of his top lieutenants suspected to be involved in dubious deals.

"He [Mugabe] said those caught up in the corruption muddle will have destroyed themselves and there is nothing he would do to protect them," he said.

Mugabe likely to reshuffle cabinet

A government official said the possible arrest of a few cabinet ministers would pave the way for a likely mini cabinet reshuffle and a shakeup of Zanu PF's politburo.

"The President is furious and there are strong indications that he will soon crack the whip. This is why in the last politburo meeting he quizzed Vice-President Joice Mujuru on her standing over the issue of corruption," said the official.

Mujuru recently attracted controversy when she reportedly questioned the on-going anti-corruption drive, in widely publicised comments, dismissing the "Salarygate" scandal as the work of enemies allegedly trying to destroy Zanu PF from within.

The VP has however made an about turn saying she was misquoted and is fully behind the investigation and prosecution of corrupt officials.

Asked to comment on Mugabe's calls for the arrest of corrupt official, Prosecutor-General, Johannes Tomana yesterday said his office was ready to deal with cases brought before it, but would wait for other institutions responsible for investigations to complete their work.

"We are ready to receive the dockets when they are prepared with the evidence and witnesses," he said.

Tomana said it was incumbent upon all Zimbabweans and institutions in the country to cooperate in order to ensure that the scourge of corruption is effectively dealt with through the right channels and processes.

Police spokesperson, senior assistant commissioner, Charity Charamba could not be reached for comment. But recently she said the law enforcement agents were waiting for completion of forensic investigations to be completed at parastatals rocked by allegations of corruption and fraud.

Three former senior managers at Air Zimbabwe have been arrested on allegations of corruption that prejudiced the national airline of millions of dollars through an insurance scam.

The three are acting chief executive officer Innocent Mavhunga, company secretary Grace Pfumbidzayi and former chief executive officer Peter Chikumba.

Several other managers running the country's loss-making parastatals and municipalities have been accused of corruptly awarding themselves hefty salaries and perks in what is now being dubbed the "Salarygate".

Former Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) boss, Cuthbert Dube was reportedly earning US$500 000, in salary and allowances.

At the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), suspended chief executive officer, Happison Muchechetere was reportedly earning over US$44 500 per month in salaries and allowances.

His three general managers, Elliot Kasu, Tazzen Mandizvidza and Allan Chiweshe were each reportedly taking home US$26 875 every month.

Harare town clerk, Tendai Mahachi and other council executives were said to be earning around US$37 000 at a time the municipality was failing to pay workers and provide essential services.

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