Govt too poor to pin down corrupt bigwigs – Minister

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By Anna Chibamu

JUSTICE Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has admitted it was not easy for the state to go after corrupt bigwigs he said had a tendency of deploying all their financial might to fight their crimes within national courts.

The minister was responding to MDC-T proportional representative MP Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga who said she was concerned about the lengthy time taken by the state to prosecute and convict high profile corruption suspects.

The firebrand opposition MP, also a member of the African Parliamentary Network against Corruption (APNAC), was speaking during parliament’s question and answer session this past week.

Misihairabwi-Mushonga singled out the snail’s pace that has been observed of axed cabinet minister Prisca Mupfumira’s trial for allegedly embezzling US$95 million when she was still Public Service Minister.

The legislator said convictions or asset forfeiture as possible remedy to massive corruption in the country were not forthcoming under the current Emmerson Mnangagwa led administration.

In his response, Ziyambi told the MP that government was indeed committed to dealing with high level corruption in the country, but lack of resources was an obstacle to the speeding up of trials.

“Indeed, high profile arrests have happened but what we also have to appreciate is that an arrest does not mean the person is guilty.

“There are due legal processes that have to be allowed until a verdict of guilty is reached. What we found out worldwide is that it is very difficult to prosecute a corruption case and also very expensive.

“What we also have to appreciate is those that are termed ‘high profile’ are people with means that can use every available legal recourse at their disposal.

“So, we would find that in most of the high-profile cases, several court applications are made by the accused and that is legal because those processes are allowed,” said Ziyambi.

He added, “I am glad that this House also passed an amendment to the Anti-Money Laundering law so that we have a provision for assert forfeiture.

“This is an easy route to follow where the onus is on the person to prove where they got the wealth from and if they fail, then those asserts are forfeited to the State.”