By Paidashe Mandivengerei
MDC vice president and former finance minister, Tendai Biti has described government’s move to give the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) arresting powers as “illegal”.
This comes after Minister of Justice, Ziyambi Ziyambi last Friday announced Zacc now had the privilege of arresting people on suspicion of corruption.
This is according to the changes made in the Statutory Instrument 143 of 2019 published in an Extraordinary Government Gazette recently.
Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com, Biti said the Zanu PF led administration should emulate South Africa which has independent multi-disciplinary agency, Scorpions than give the anti-graft body powers unconstitutionally.
“That’s not permitted in the constitution,” Biti said.
“We all want corruption to be fought and this country is dominated by cartels of corruption but we also can’t do things that are illegal.
“The constitution does not empower the anti-corruption commission to have arresting powers.
“This can only be done in parliament, I’m a member of parliament and parliament has not passed anything. We do not operate outside the law and the consistent thing about this regime is that it has been acting outside the law.”
The Harare East MP went onto add that creating a division within the Zimbabwe Republic Police which will deal mainly with corruption cases would have been a wiser move.
“There is no need to create another police force, we have over 80 000 police in Zimbabwe so it’s a question of strengthening these institutions and not to create further ineffective institutions.
“Let’s fight corruption but let’s do it within the corners of the law. This was actually debated during the constitution making process and the majority of Zimbabweans felt that we should leave this to the police.
“If Zacc is to be strengthened, it should have forensic powers and capacity to look at complicated financial transactions which it does not have that is why cases are flopping.
“The solution is not to create another arresting force but to create a specialised unit within the police itself like the Scorpions and Hawks in South Africa which specialises in, a unit with lawyers, forensic scientists,” he said.
Before the new action, the anti-corruption commission had no powers to arrest and could only recommend to the police to conduct arrests and investigations in such cases.
While President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been very outspoken about dealing with corruption in the country since he assumed power in 2017, no meaningful action has since been taken in curbing the problem.
Global indexes have ranked Zimbabwe among the world’s most corrupt countries.