ZACC suspends investigators over graft

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Loice Matanda-Moyo

TINASHE MAKICHI

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has suspended six investigators pending disciplinary hearings over various allegations of corruption and obstructing the course of justice, Business Times has learnt.

The anti-graft body was re-constituted last year following concerns that some of its members were conflicted in carrying out its mandate. Information gathered by Business Times shows that the suspended investigators had become compromised and no longer able to carry out their mandate diligently, hence the institution of a suspension pending dismissal.

The latest development is part of ZACC chairperson Loice Matanda-Moyo’s efforts to weed out corruption within the anti-graft body, which has also become vulnerable to manipulation due to the lack of resources and funding from the Treasury.

ZACC spokesperson John Makamure declined to comment. Information gathered points to the fact that complaints had since been made to ZACC by various corners over the conduct of some of its investigators. Business Times is informed that some investigators had become so powerful to an extent of frustrating investigations.

The current ZACC team of investigators comprise various members of law enforcement agencies seconded to the antigraft body. Business Times is informed that there are now efforts to come up with a completely new team who are professionally trained. The current team of investigators was inherited from the Goodson Nguni-led anti-graft body whose members, including Nguni, were made to resign en bloc last year following suspicions of corruption within its ranks.

According to Transparency International, the global anticorruption watchdog, Zimbabwe is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and the canker apparently affects even anti-corruption groups, such as ZACC. The issue of ZACC being under-resourced is seen as the biggest challenge affecting the anti-graft body.

At the moment, ZACC needs close to ZWL100m for its 2020 activities, which include recruiting highly qualified staff and decentralisation of its work. The amount will enable the Commission to recover about $300m worth of assets suspected to have been acquired fraudulently and corruptly by various individuals.

ZACC is critically under-resourced with 90 investigators sharing less than five vehicles, while the docket management system is said to be in shambles. A well-placed source told Business Times that fighting corruption remains difficult especially when the investigators are under resourced.

“The current situation at ZACC is tricky because it has invited a lot of sharks who are now manipulating investigators due to the lack of resources,” said a source who wants to remain anonymous. “Once you have an anti-corruption body that is continuously raising a resources issue, that means even their course of duty will be compromised,” the source added.

As a way of adding some teeth to the anti-graft body, the government accorded ZACC arresting powers as it intensified its fight against corruption.

The changes were announced in an Extraordinary Government Gazette published last Friday through Statutory Instrument 143 of 2019. The new regulations modified the previous legal instrument that deals with peace officers.

Ziyambi Ziyambi, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has – in terms of Section 2 (Paragraph H) of the definition of “peace officer” under the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (Chapter 9:07) – included ZACC officers.