3 January 2018

Zimbabwe: Anti-Corruption Body Vows More High-Profile Arrests, but Opposition Says Campaign Insincere and Politically Motivated

THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) says more prominent people will be arrested in the next few weeks as the government moves to deal with rampant graft which has brought the economy of Africa's once bread basket to its knees.

However, opposition parties immediately expressed reservations over the crackdown saying it was focussing on petty issues and only targeting members of a vanquished faction of the ruling Zanu PF party.

ZACC chairperson Goodson Nguni told the national broadcaster ZBC Tuesday that they were getting support from the administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa who has declared zero tolerance on corruption since taking over power from Robert Mugabe in November through a military assisted operation code named Operation Restore Legacy.

Several former ministers in Mugabe's government have been arrested in the past few weeks for corruption.

"Those found wanting will be arrested. Even those who were previously untouchable now face arrest as we now have support from the new government," Nguni told the ZBC.

Former Vice President in Mugabe's administration, Phelekezela Mphoko once said the anti-corruption body itself was full of corrupt people and could therefore, not deal with corruption.

Mphoko accused ZAAC of targeting former Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo for political reasons.

"I must express my concern about ZACC. I don't think it's capable of dealing with corruption in the country.

"As far as ZACC is concerned, the only sinner is Prof Moyo and myself because I ordered the release of Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA) executives from police custody," Mphoko was quoted state media as saying in October last year.

Mugabe himself blocked Moyo's arrest after a team of investigators came after the minister at the Zanu PF Headquarters in Harare in connection with fraud allegations at the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund which fell under his Ministry.

However, opposition political parties say they were yet convinced by the anti-graft body as it seemed to be investigating petty issues and pursuing individuals for political reasons.

MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said there was need for a holistic approach to the issue of corruption, saying it appeared the anti-graft drive was only targeting people known to be from a particular faction of the ruling Zanu PF.

"You get the sense that they are settling scores," said Gutu.

"How can they arrest Makhosini Hlongwane for having bags of sugar beans when the real big fish of corruption are free? There are real sharks swimming in the sea of corruption.

"They are arresting the small fish while the tigers and sharks are swimming away."

Gutu said those being targeted were not the type of criminals who would bring down the economy.

"There are people who have been smuggling goods and externalizing funds, those are the people who bring the economy down," he said.

People's Democratic Party (PDP) spokesperson, Jacob Mafume, said the idea was not about arresting people, but successfully prosecuting those accused of corruption, saying most had been arrested and later acquitted and were now enjoying their ill-gotten wealth freely.

He said government should first reform the ZACC and the Attorney General's office so that they become effective.

"I am sure they are all waiting to be arrested by incompetent police officers, prosecuted by incompetent prosecutors and they are discharged at the end of trial," he said.

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