Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo yesterday expressed frustration over the government's lack of resolve to fight rampant corruption, amid startling revelations the country is losing up to US$1,8 billion annually due to the vice.
The huge cost of corruption has been revealed by two Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) studies conducted last year. TIZ is the local unit of global anti-graft watchdog Transparency International.
The reports, titled Gendered Corruption Barometer and Corruption Impact Analysis on Tax Administration and Revenue Mobilisation, were launched in Harare yesterday.
TIZ conducted the studies to raise awareness on the existence of corruption and its impact on tax administration and revenue mobilisation.
Speaking at the event, Matanda-Moyo said Zacc's efforts to combat the cancerous vice were being frustrated by a lethargic approach to arrest corruption, particularly
in the wake of a very low conviction rate in the courts of law.There have been several cases where corruption suspects were arrested by Zacc, only for the cases to dramatically collapse. The cases mostly involve high-ranking government and ruling Zanu PF officials, the most recent of which involved minister of State for Presidential Affairs in charge of Implementation and Monitoring Joram Gumbo, whose case spectacularly fell apart.
The practice has come to be known as "catch and release" in common parlance."From the studies carried out on corruption impact analysis last year, Zimbabwe is losing US$1,8 billion every year. The research is very crucial to capture financial leakages," Matanda-Moyo said.
"Zacc is on record that those who have an affinity for either evading or avoiding their tax obligations will be fully brought to account for their actions without favour. We will institute thorough investigations to recover assets, arrests and hand them over for prosecution without fear or favour. However, as Zacc, we are also frustrated by the catch-and-release syndrome," she said.
"But let me assure you that we are working tirelessly together with the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) in trying to find ways of ending this catch-and-release syndrome," she added.
Swedish Embassy Charge d'affaires and head of Development Cooperation Mette Sunnergren urged the authorities to fully investigate corruption cases. She said corruption was a threat to democracy, the economy and human rights.
Matanda-Moyo said despite being in its infancy, Zacc has fought to rejuvenate the anti-corruption war."The current commission has been in office for less than 12 months, but now I can assure you we have tried our best to rejuvenate and give clout to Zacc as an institution. We have made arrests from those believed to have committed grand corruption. Currently we are running out of space of storage for recovered property," Matanda-Moyo said.
"A number of bank accounts have been frozen but, again, we are still working on the legal framework to ensure that we finalise the processes with the courts. As you know, our law currently is that the NPA is the one which must take these matters to court. But we are again trying to rope in the Attorney-General's Office to do that work so that we can make progress in that area and I am happy that the parliamentarians will assist in coming up with a legal framework in fighting against corruption.