Govt in new anti-corruption drive

...as Zanu PF expresses worry on graft cases

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Taurai Mangudhla/ Tawanda Marwizi

A massive anti-corruption wave is blowing that could claim the scalps of a number of top civil servants, politicians as well as parastatal directors and executives, Business Times has learnt.

The push is coming from President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu PF party amid information some members of the politburo have been in recent weeks sternly emphasising the need to weed out corrupt and rogue elements from Government and the public sector. They also want incompetent parastatal bosses, board members and politicians sacked.

In his inaugural speech when he took over the reins in 2017, President Mnangagwa said he would weed out corruption. He set up a special prosecution unit under his office to deal with graft which often been cited as endemic in most government departments. However, the wheels have been slowly with critics saying the anti-corruption dragnet is targeting small fish while the political heavyweights remain untouched.

Recently, Mnangagwa said there appears to be a syndicate involving the police, prosecutors and the courts to slow the anti-corruption drive. A source close to the Zanu PF politburo and government said a serious anti-corruption campaign is underway which will claim the scalp of senior politicians and executives in State owned enterprises and parastatals. Last month, the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Corporation (ZCDC) fired seven senior executives including CEO Moris Mpofu.

ZANU PF legislators in Parliament will be used to cause parliamentary enquiries into the issues while reports will also be made to the police and Anti-Corruption Commission where sufficient grounds are made, insiders said yesterday.

So far, the source said, the ball has been set rolling with a target on a few specific companies- Minerals Marketing Cooperation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), ZESA and the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA).

Draft talking points for a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy seen by Business Times show MMCZ is expected to be questioned on its role in selling diamonds and its relationship with ZCDC.

“We are aware that MMCZ, ZESA and ZINARA are major areas of focus and the idea is we want a cleanup, if people are corrupt or incompetent they must be fired,” said the source who requested not to be named.

MMCZ directors are particularly being targeted.

Recently, Energy and Power Development minister Fortune Chasi recently sacked the entire Zesa board on grounds of incompetence after it failed to appreciate the urgency of the situation Zimbabwe is in following rolling power cuts. Chasi said he needed a board made up of qualified men and women of integrity who are hands on.

The decision to fire the entire ZESA board, sources said, came from President Mnangagwa’s office.

“People think it is Chasi who just came up with this, but work was already being done to that effect in the Office of the President,” the source added.

The ZESA board was fired barely a month after former Energy Minister Jorum Gumbo was re-assigned to the post of minister of State for Presidential Affairs in charge of Implementation and Monitoring.

As recently reported by Business Times, Zinara could be splurging up to $2 million each year on hiring luxurious vehicles for its top management and board executives.

Some top executives over corruption allegations and gross funds mismanagement.
At a recent parliamentary portfolio committee hearing, Transport minister Joel Matiza called in the police to investigate the misappropriation of funds at ZINARA.

Politicians and civil servants have been using parastatals and State owned enterprises as feeding troughs and where jobs for the boys”. This comes at a time Treasury is overstretched as it continues funding perennial loss making parastatals and State owned enterprises. Treasury has proposed to dispose of, privatise and liquidate some
state enterprises and parastatals.

Zimbabwe has been performing dismally on the Corruption Index. Last year, Zimbabwe dropped three places to 160 out of 180 countries on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

According to the latest CPI for 2018 which was released last month, Zimbabwe remains on the tail-end of tackling corruption despite renewed government efforts to fight graft both in the public and private sectors.

The CPI ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and business people. It uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. More than two-thirds of countries, according to the report scored below 50 on this year’s index, with an average of just 43.
Zimbabwe scored 22.

Last month, President Mnangagwa criticised Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi for the lethargic pace in dealing with corruption cases. “The Minister of Justice, who also chair the inter-ministerial taskforce in Parliament is relaxing; don’t relax,” Mnangagwa said.
“I am disappointed that corruption cases are not moving. I implore all those who play a mammoth role in dealing with corruption cases to remain steadfast and deal with the cases

ZANU PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said: “I think you are referring to a group of people, because we did not officially discuss that last week. In any case what is new because the President has spoken largely on those matters, against corruption? The president has spoken against corruption and that it must be dealt with.”