By Alex Bell
21 March 2013
Zimbabwe’s Anti Corruption Commission (ZACC) has said it will still pursue efforts to probe the alleged corrupt activities of some government ministers and parastatals, despite attempts to block its work.
The ZACC was last week stopped from investigating the Zimbabwe Mining and Development Corporation (ZMDC) and the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board (NIEEB), amid reports of serious corruption within both groups. The ZMDC is linked to Mines Minister Obert Mpofu, while the NIEEB is linked to Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere.
The ZACC investigation into the two groups was signed off by a High Court Judge last Monday, but both parastatals filed an urgent interdict to stop the probe. Since then a group believed to be aligned to Kasukuwere has used the Sunday Mail newspaper to lash out at the ZACC, accusing it of being involved in corruption.
ZACC spokesperson Goodwill Shana told journalists in Harare on Wednesday that his organisation was operating above board and attempts to discredit the group had no basis. He explained that the Commission did not challenge last week’s interdict stopping their investigations because commissioners wanted to regroup and strategise a way forward. This could include applying for fresh warrants.
Shana also denied the allegations of corruption within the Commission, calling it a “desperate attempt to cast aspersions on the image of ZACC.” He also dismissed the claims that the ZACC had secured search warrants from the High Court to “pursue underhand and malicious investigations against certain organisations, their officials and respective ministries”.
“ZACC wants to put it on record that it exhausted all prescribed procedures and avenues for obtaining search warrants, including the police and magistrates’ courts,” Shana said. He listed the details and dates that ZACC had previously, unsuccessfully, approached the magistrates’ courts, the police and the Attorney-General’s Office before they finally approached the High Court.
“This was unusual. Search warrants are ordinarily given without much ado, as the record shows, even as recently as the past two weeks. Search warrants do not indicate the commission has declared a person or party guilty, it is merely an attempt to establish facts based on documentary or other evidence,” Shana said.
Shana added: “As ZACC, we are not prompted by political considerations, but by reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed . . . the individual and political diversity of the commission would make a political sectorial agenda difficult to pursue or achieve.”
Commentator Precious Shumba said the work of the ZACC will not be successful until the body is completely separated from the state. He said the commission was the result of a “compromise” between the three parties in the unity government, and this is why it “has no teeth” to root out corruption.
“The composition of the commission needs to be on merit alone and not based on partisan placements. The commission need to have the power to independently conduct investigations, without its work being compromised,” Shumba said.