By Lenah Nhewa
Inadequate funding has prompted the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) to seek to a change in the law to allow it to retain a portion of recovered loot to fund its operations.
This was revealed on Thursday in Harare by ZACC Commissioner John Makamure at a Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) Corruption Perceptions Index Results Report launch.
“We are cognisant of the budgetary limitations, we are making proposals for retention of a percentage of assets recovery so that we are able to capacitate ZACC,” Makamure said.
“The fiscus will never be able to fund this anti-corruption fight. We all know that it’s not possible at the moment,” he said.
Having recovered millions in money and property in a crackdown on graft, ZAAC now seeks a portion of the proceeds of corruption and storage space to fund its work.
“We have made arrests on those believed to have committed grand corruption, currently we are running out of space of storage for recovered properties,” Makamure said.
He went on to say that “a number of bank accounts have been frozen, but again we are still working on the legal framework to ensure that we finalise the process with the courts.”
Makamure said ZACC has set its eyes on linking up with stakeholder organisations within Zimbabwe as well the region to strengthen reach and efficiency.
“This ZACC is you with other partners local and regional, this ZACC is determined, it’s serious about stakeholders’ engagement,” he said.
“They will be many MOUs with many others…since we came into office, we have an MOU with NPA, ZRP, judicial service commission, auditor general’s office, ZIMRA, and other countries like Botswana.
“We are discussing with other international organisations that specialise in asset tracking and recovery so we are entering with those again.
“That will also assist with expertise, address capacity issues, we have an MOU with financial intelligence unit within the RBZ so that when it comes to unpacking the complex transactions in the financial sector, that unit can assist us,” said Makamure.
ZAAC has often been accused of employing the catch and release strategy. This is a criticism against their failure to secure convictions during the criminal prosecution of suspects.
Corruption cases of high profile figures that collapsed include Ignatius Chombo who was charged on more than three counts of corruption, including attempting to fleece the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in 2004, when he was local government minister.
In 2018 former minister of Energy, Samuel Undenge was also charged for prejudicing ZPC of US 12, 000. While recently former Tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira is facing charges of abusing US$95 million emanating from the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) forensic audit report.
The Marry Chiwenga trial is another case in point. Having cited Chiwenga and his business associates as having helped her in her dealings it appears an out of court settlement is being negotiated to preclude the public from getting more information on Chiwenga’s deals.
Critics say ZAAC would have never prosecuted Marry had she not fallen out of favour with Chiwenga.
To stave off criticism ZAAC is on record saying its mandate is to investigate while the National Prosecution Authority prosecutes.
“It’s true that the public has raised this concern about catch and release and they have attributed it to ZACC. Unfortunately, it’s not ZACC’s responsibility alone,” said ZAAC Commissioner, Thandiwe Mlobani.
“ZACC is mandated to carry out investigations, so ZACC only investigates cases of corruption and once the cases have been completed ZACC then refers the cases to the National Prosecuting Authority.
“The NPA takes over and presents the case before a magistrate and someone apparently looks like they are being released, it’s because there are so many laws that are there,” she said. Nehanda Radio