20 April 2017

Zimbabwe: Zacc Cites Threats, Meddling in Ops - Officials Living in Fear - Ministers, High-Profile Figures Fingered

Photo: lejecos
(File photo).

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has said it is receiving threats from Cabinet ministers and political interference from high-profile individuals, which have hampered its investigation of cases of corruption in line with its constitutional mandate.

ZACC said in its 2016 Annual Report that it now feared for the lives of its officers.

The report was recently tabled in Parliament by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in his capacity as overseer of the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

"In the period under review, ZACC investigated a number of corruption cases, large and complex, involving high-profile figures, including Cabinet ministers as a result of public reports, information and inquiries among other sources," said ZACC.

"There were incidences of political interference, including threats by ministers against ZACC officers.

"This compromises investigations and puts the life of officers in real danger."

ZACC did not mention specific cases in which it was threatened due to political interference.

But one of the high-profile cases it handed involved Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo and his Deputy Dr Godfrey Gandawa, who were up for alleged abuse of office and misappropriation of over $400 000 Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) funds.

Zimdef chief executive Mr Frederick Mandizvidza and Zimdef principal director (finance) Mr Nicholas Mapute, were also arrested over similar allegations and their case is pending before the courts.

Last year, ZACC issued warrants of arrest to Permanent Secretaries Grace Mutandiri (Lands and Resettlement), Munesu Munodawafa (Transport and Infrastructure Development), George Mlilo (Local Government, Public Works and National Housing), Willard Manungo (Finance and Economic Development), Evelyn Ndlovu (Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development) and Sam Kundishora (Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services).

Others who got the same warrants included Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Mr Karikoga Kaseke, Zimbabwe National Roads Administration acting chief executive Engineer Moses Juma and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation acting chief executive Mr Patrick Mavhura.

NetOne acting managing director Mr Brian Mutandiro, Premier Service Medical Aid Society managing director Mr Tendai Kapumha and his Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe counterpart, Mr David Chawota, are also being investigated.

ZACC's probes have sucked in companies owned by prominent businesspeople Messrs Wicknell Chivayo (Intratrek), Phillip Chiyangwa (Pinnacle Holdings), Farai Jere (Helcraw Electrical), Moses Chingwena (Croco Motors), Agrippa Masiyakurima (Bopela), Paddy Zhanda (Veracity Private Limited) and Shadreck Mashayamombe (Solomon Mujuru Housing Trust).

ZESA Holdings bosses are in trouble with ZACC over the awarding of Mutare Power Peak project to Helcraw Electrical Private Limited owned by businessman Mr Jere.

It is alleged that the State Procurement Board awarded the tender to the company that had failed to meet technical specifications stated by the Zimbabwe Power Company.

Allegations are that the SPB unilaterally awarded the tender to technically non-compliant Helcraw Electrical (Pvt) Ltd because it was the lowest bidder at $92 million against a recommendation by ZPC to award the tender to technically-compliant Pito Investments that had charged $120 million for the emergency diesel power plant.

Also under spotlight is Zesa's deal with Intratrek owned by businessman Mr Wicknell Chivhayo, whose company clinched a $202 million tender to construct a 100-megawatt solar power plant in Gwanda, Matabeleland South province.

The law enforcement agents suspect that tender procedures could have been flouted.

Zesa is also under probe for engaging Fruitful Communications owned by Highfield MP Mr Pyschology Maziwisa (Zanu-PF) and journalist Mr Oscar Pambuka over how the company was meant to do public relations when the power utility has a full-fledged public relations department headed by Mr Fullard Gwasira.

Reports say several Government ministers and other high profile figures have criminal cases that are at different levels of investigations.

Prof Moyo has been denigrating ZACC, claiming that it was improperly constituted and was not supposed to handle his case.

ZACC also noted in its report that financial challenges were also affecting its ability to fulfil its constitutional mandate.

The commission was allocated $1,6 million in 2016, although some of the money has not been disbursed.

Meanwhile, ZACC owes the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority $5 million in tax arrears accrued due to abuse of a Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe vehicle facility.

"ZACC has been indebted to Zimra to the tune of $5 million in tax arrears mainly due to corrupt practices," the commission said in its report. "The commission established that the largest chunk of these arrears had accrued from vehicles bought by RBZ, which were converted to personal issue as retention vehicles for individual staff members who did not qualify at all for such vehicles, which were supposed to be ZACC pool vehicles.

"These vehicles were registered in their own personal names and sold in violation of standing policy, rules and procedures."

Apart from the tax arrears, the commission also owed various creditors $473 105 as of February 2016.

The commission also suspended four managers namely Christopher Chisango, Edwin Mubataripi, Gibson Mangwiro and Sukai Tongogara, after they corruptly acquired ZACC's office building in Mt Pleasant.

Ms Tongogara has since been cleared, while the remaining three were fired, the other three are still fighting their case in the courts.

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