ZACC goes after corruptly acquired properties hidden abroad

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By Leopold Munhende, Chief Correspondent

THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), with assistance from its American, South African, and European counterparts, is now targeting corruptly acquired properties and wealth hidden outside the country.

ZACC commissioner Kuviwa Murapa said they enlisted legal services in the above-mentioned territories to repossess the properties, without naming targeted individuals.

Murapa was speaking at an ongoing workshop on progress made in the fight against corruption, facilitated by parliament and funded by the African Parliamentarians’ Network Against Corruption (APNAC).

“The commission has now adopted a strategy that for each criminal inquiry there should be a parallel asset inquiry as well,” said Murapa.

“In the countries neighbouring and abroad, the commission has enlisted mutual legal assistance from those jurisdictions to recover assets originating from this country that are parked in those jurisdictions, financial houses, in land, buildings and equipment.

“It is through in the public domain that through these efforts, assets worth R14 million have been accounted for in South Africa, but that is not all,

“We continue to investigate and as we do, we are now close to finalising assets of former high ranking civil servants who parked Zimbabwean assets in South Africa.

“We have identified a number of private assets as well whose source of investment income cannot be sufficiently explained, nor are there any tax declarations on these investments either with ZINARA or tax authorities in those countries.

“In this regard SARS, and other tax authorities in America and Europe are assisting ZACC in identifying and possible forfeiture of those assets.”

Exiled former cabinet ministers and Zanu PF top officials, Saviour Kasukuwere, Walter Mzembi, Patrick Zhuwao, Godfrey Gandawa, Professor Jonathan Moyo, and former police chief Augustine Chihuri reportedly own massive tracts of land, buildings, high end vehicles and offshore accounts accumulated under late President Robert Mugabe.

To date US$56 million worth of properties has been repossessed by the state.

Speaking to journalists late last year, then prosecutor general Kumbirai Hodzi, said they had continued with investigation into properties owned by Mugabe’s former allies even after they fled during the November 2017 coup.

“We have civil and criminal processes against fugitives who include Kasukuwere,  Mzembi, Gandawa, Moyo, Chihuri, Zhuwao and others. In these cases, what we have done is because the accused persons absconded from trial or when we served them with indictment papers, they removed themselves from the jurisdiction of the country and went into foreign jurisdictions, we continued with the matters,” he said.

Murapa added that individuals had an option to declare their assets to ZACC and negotiate forfeiture of assets as failure to do so, will mean the anti-graft body will repossess all it lays its hands on.

He added: “Should people have such assets, if you come to us and state your assets perhaps, we can start talking, because when we get hold of them, we get hold of everything.

“We are also aware that some assets are now being hidden in cryptocurrency but as of now ZACC officers have been trained in that regard.”

Zimbabwe is ranked 157 on the 180-member corruption index list, with over US$2 billion said to be lost to graft each year.