Zimbabwe’s main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, has called on the country’s anti-graft agency to clamp down on all those who are found on the wrong side of the law regardless of their positions.
In a statement sent to News24, MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said that the Zimbabwe Anti–Corruption Commission (ZACC) should be allowed to stick to its constitutional mandate without fear or favour.
This came as the country’s minister of higher education Jonathan Moyo faced fraud allegations.
Reports indicated that through his deputy Godfrey Gandawa, Moyo was able to take $85 000 from the taxpayer-funded Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) and used some of it to buy bicycles for his Tsholotsho constituency.
The pair was alleged to have also been involved in the withdrawal of nearly $96 000 from the fund for the purchase of 3D printers.
There was also a claim that (again through Gandawa) Moyo took out a personal loan of $24 000 from the fund last October.
The allegations have fuelled anger in troubled Zimbabwe, where the fight against state-sponsored corruption has been the main thrust of the seven-month-old #ThisFlag protest movement.
Gutu said that ZACC must “arrest corrupt public and private individuals as long as there has been thorough, unbiased, impartial and diligent investigation”.
“The MDC would like to call for the uncompromising enforcement of the country’s anti–corruption laws as well as the arrest and prosecution of all suspects as long as the evidence against them is strong and unassailable.
Put differently, the MDC fervently and passionately advocates for a policy where all corrupt persons, no matter who they are or what office they hold in the public or private sector, have to be hauled before a competent court of law whenever and wherever a prima facie case of corruption has been established against them,” said Gutu.
He added that in order for the country to attract the much-needed investment from local and international investors it had a constitutional duty to act on corruption.
“The MDC is calling for the investigation of all known and reported cases of corruption, whether or not such cases involve highly placed and influential politicians and other public and private sector officials. Corruption is simply defined as the abuse of one’s office for private gain,” said Gutu
Last week, Deputy President Phekezela Mphoko reportedly questioned the ant-graft agency’s motives on some of the big cases that it was investigating.
According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, Mphoko suggested that the anti-graft agency might be used to settle political scores.
Mphoko claimed that the ongoing investigations by the ZACC (which is run by the office of defence minister which is under deputy President Emmerson Mnangagwa) were “malicious”.
He also pointed out that presidential appointees could not be arrested as this would be undermining the office of the president.
“If you want to arrest a senior government official such as a principal director or permanent secretary you need to approach the chief secretary to the president and cabinet, but whenever the police intend to arrest a cabinet minister, they should first seek the permission to do so from the president. What happened is clear malice by people who want to do things the illegal way,” Mphoko was quoted as saying.
Reports indicated that the southern African country was losing at least $1bn to corruption.
According to corruption watchdog Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ), police and government officials were the worst offenders.
Local councils, the vehicle inspection department which issues licences, the department of education and the police, were also among the worst corrupt institutions in the country.
Zimbabwe was last year ranked 150th out of 168 countries on the Transparency International index, which measures public perceptions of corruption in public institutions.
Here is the official summary of the case against Moyo, and others, courtesy of Zimbabwe’s Sunday Mailnewspaper.