12 January 2018

Zimbabwe: Immigration Staff Complain About Corruption

Photo: New Zimbabwe
(File photo).

IMMIGRATION department employees have written to Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu and parliament asking them to urgently investigate allegations of rampant corruption, nepotism and abuse of state assets, which have prejudiced government of "colossal amounts of revenue," the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.

In a letter addressed to Mpofu dated December 12 2017 and copied to the Civil Service Commission permanent secretary, Civil Service commissioners and the Principal Director of the Immigration Department, the employees said they were ready to present concrete evidence of the alleged corruption at the institution.

The letter was signed by Nkosana Mtunzi, an immigration staff representative.

The slew of allegations raised in the correspondence range from corruption, abuse of the retention fund, flagrant abuse of government property, irregular promotions, unfair disciplinary hearings, forced resignations and questionable deployments, among others.

"When we meet with you Honourable minister ... we are going to furnish you with concrete proof during the meeting," the letter reads. "There is widespread corruption -- which is taking of bribes and protectionism. There is also abuse of government property and manpower. There was also the purchasing of substandard or questionable equipment such as the computers that resulted in the government losing colossal amounts of revenue in places like Victoria Falls where officers were tempted to take advantage of the loopholes."

Mpofu did not respond to the letter, prompting Mtunzi to write to him again on December 27. Mtunzi urged Mpofu to meet the workers urgently, highlighting that some workers were being victimised after the first letter.

"While us as your loyal subordinates appreciate that the Minister has a busy and too tight a schedule in his office, we find it of paramount importance to keep the minister informed of the current unfolding developments on the ground, lest our request gets overtaken by events as has been happening when these subject issues were brought before his predecessors," wrote Mtunzi. "Of late we have seen the urgent and somewhat haphazard transfer of Assistant Regional Immigration Officer Morgan Moyo from Mutare to Chirundu Border Post and the conveniently arranged disciplinary hearing of Emily Mupeti."

After failing to secure audience with Mpofu, the workers on Tuesday sought the attention of the Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda and the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Labour and Social Welfare Magna Mudyiwa. The workers highlighted the issues they raised to Mpofu and called for an investigation.

Contacted for comment, Immigration Department director for administration and human resources Stephen Museki refuted the corruption allegations, saying the institution has been "consistently and persistently fighting corruption". Revenue leakages through Zimbabwe's entry points, he said, had sharply declined since 2007, due to "new systems" that the department has adopted.

"Before 2007, corruption was outrageous. In 2007, we used to collect US$250 000 per month, and after checks and balances, we are now collecting between US$1,2 million and US$1,5 million -- and this is hard cash," Museki said.

He said Mtunzi, who undersigned the correspondence dispatched to parliament and the Home Affairs ministry was "no longer a member of the department".

"These are falsehoods, that person (Mtunzi) is not even a member of the department. He has no office here," he said, noting that the allegations raised in the correspondence were false, which is why the Home Affairs ministry had "ignored them". "In as far as corruption is concerned, the Immigration Department has been fighting cases of corruption, left, right and centre," he said.

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