By Makanaka Masenyama
THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has opened over 600 high profile corruption cases targeting 74 well-heeled individuals in government, judiciary, private sector and politics.
This was revealed recently by ZACC chairperson Loice Matanda-Moyo in an interview with the NewZimbabwe.com.
“There are so many cases that we are investigating. So far we have got 74 high profile cases but I cannot give you names at the moment since investigations are still underway but we do have a lot of cases numbering over 600,” said Matanda-Moyo.
However, the ZACC boss was not forthcoming in terms of revealing when the arrests could be made, but hinted that she was sitting on a thick volume of high profile cases of graft allegedly committed by current and former ministers, MPs, judges and business executives over the past.
Matanda-Moyo was recently accused by the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) of issuing out “reckless statements” which had potential to destabilise the operations of the judiciary through unsolicited comments ZACC was investigating judges without naming those under probe.
The LSZ argued that by not mentioning names of the targeted judges, ZACC was in fact labelling all judiciary officers as corrupt.
The LSZ contends that the statement by ZACC amounts to a generalised threat against all judges, individually and as an institution.
“The statement fails to name the judges concerned, and thus paints all judges with the same brush,” the group said, adding the accusations could impact negatively on the judges’ attempts to carry out their duties without fear of favour.
“Thus not only does the statement have the potential of interfering with judicial independence, but also has the potential to undermine the judiciary in the eyes of the public,” the LSZ said.
The general public has also lost faith in the arrests of high profile persons following the release of most of the suspects and their trials failing to kick-off due to a number of legal factors.
The practice has been described as “Catch and Release”.
The suspects so far arrested by ZACC include former Public Service Minister Priscah Mupfumira, former Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) chief executive, Frank Chitukutu, Zimbabwe Defence Forces director of procurement Peter Muchakadzi, wife of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Marry and a few other senior government and parastatal officials. Most are facing charges of theft or fraud.
Mupfumira is facing seven counts of criminal abuse of office involving US$95 million.
Meanwhile, Matanda-Moyo said she was concerned by the increase in cases of victimisation and harassment involving people reporting corruption to ZACC, hence a number of whistle blowers were no longer willing to come forward with evidence.
“We are still counselling our members of the society to be able to come forward and testify without fear but I would want to believe that our legislation is lagging behind and is not protecting whistle blowers,” said Matanda-Moyo.
“We do not have any legislation pertaining to the protection of whistle blowers and protection of witnesses at the moment and therefore there has been a lot of harassment of possible witnesses. For example, certain persons have been transferred or lost their jobs because they have reported cases of corruption to ZACC.”
The ZACC boss, however, assured Zimbabweans that her organisation was looking into the issue and no cases of victimisation will continue as there was strong political will by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to end endemic corruption in the country.
“From the highest level there is political will especially from our President Emmerson Mnangagwa but from some of the ministers, a lot still needs to be done.
“We still need to educate some of our highly placed officials so that they come on board in fighting corruption,” said Matanda-Moyo.