By Everson Mushava
HARARE – Two Zanu PF ministers close to President Robert Mugabe face arrest by the Anti-Corruption Commission of Zimbabwe (ACC) over theft of Constituency Development Funds (CDF), it has been established.
High-level briefings to the Daily News yesterday revealed that President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have been briefed and are not opposing arrests if the ACC has sufficient evidence.
The Daily News cannot name the ministers due to legal implications as investigations are still in progress while the ACC refused to confirm either the planned arrests or the probe itself.
Both ministers claim to be rich, are engaged in various businesses and are usually at the forefront of bootlicking Mugabe when given the slightest opportunity.
A highly-placed source said yesterday: “It’s game on as the Anti-Corruption Commission is closing in on the ministers. If you notice, Tomana (Johannes, the Attorney General) rushed to block the investigations because it was going to nail two of his closest foot soldiers both of whom have been harassing the MDC using powers vested in their ministries.
“When the MDC MPs were being arrested, they (Zanu PF) were celebrating not knowing that the net was closing in on two of their top ministers.
“Mugabe feels embarrassed by the whole issue because these are some of his closest running dogs. But at the same time, it will be difficult to stop the arrests because the Prime Minister has been briefed.”
Tsvangirai has maintained that all MPs and ministers found to have abused the funds should face the law. He said he would not protect anyone on the issue even from his party.
The development comes soon after Tomana gave constitutional affairs minister Eric Matinenga a directive to stop the arrest of MPs accused of abusing CDF until all constituencies were audited. Tomana argues that the investigation should be widened so that everyone will be audited.
Analysts have however, said Tomana’s actions were aimed at protecting the legislators and ministers from the former ruling party upon realising that they would be the next target. Others, however maintain that Tomana wants to genuinely have all those who stole the money investigated and arrested.
At least 10 MPs have been targeted by the ACC for failing to account for the $50 000 allocation received from the ministry of Finance. So far, four MPs — three from the main MDC and one from Zanu PF — have been charged with fraud and abuse of authority after failing to account how they used the funds.
Sternford Chirindo, the ACC chairperson yesterday refused to confirm the move to arrest the two ministers but maintained that there will be no sacred cows.
“Our position is clear, we investigate and then arrest. The public will then be advised,” Chirindo said adding that the commission is still investigating all cases involving abuse of CDF. He steadfastly refused to confirm if they were investigating the ministers.
Asked if Tomana’s order to stop arrests of MPs for abuse of CDF will not be a slap in the face of justice and encourage corrupt activities to go on unabated, Chirindo said: “We enjoy a good working relationship with the Attorney General. He is a stakeholder and we are united in the fight against corruption.”
But he emphasised that there were many interested parties with scores to settle against each other and as the ACC, they will not be part of such politics. Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo could not comment, asking the reporter to call later. He could not be reached at the time of going to press.
But the MDC says they were in support of the arrests if there are reasonable grounds. “It depends on how fair the ACC is in arresting the ministers but if there are reasonable grounds, as the MDC, we say justice should take its course.
“The law must deal equally with law breakers, whether they are from high offices and irrespective of political affiliation. As long as they are treated fairly with principals of natural justice being followed,” Douglas Mwonzora, MDC spokesperson said yesterday.
On the arrest of MDC legislators while only one from Zanu PF was arrested, Mwonzora said people must be fairly treated. “All the three from MDC were arrested while only one out of seven Zanu PF implicated was arrested,” Mwonzora said. Daily News
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