By Zvamaida Murwira
Some senior Government officials have been accused of demanding bribes from desperate businesspeople seeking exemption letters to allow them easy passage at security checkpoints during the Covid-19 induced national lockdown.
The same officials have also been accused of delaying issuance of exemption letters in order to induce applicants to pay them bribes.
The Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission says it has since launched full-scale investigations against some named senior Government officials who are alleged to be involved in the scam.
In an interview yesterday, Zacc spokesperson Commissioner John Makamure said investigations were in full swing to weed out corrupt elements among Government officials responsible for issuance of exemption letters.
Exemption letters allow holders to pass through security checkpoints as well as unhindered operations of their businesses during the prescribed hours.
Lockdown regulations allow traders providing essential services to operate up to 3pm during the 30 day national lockdown announced by the Government starting this week.
“The Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission has received several complaints of Government officials demanding bribes in order to issue exemption letters to registered businesses offering essential services. It is mainly the small scale registered retail outlets bearing the brunt of such malpractices,” said Comm Makamure.
“The Commission has launched full investigations into these reports and the culprits will soon be brought to book. Statutory Instrument 10 of 2021 is very clear on the exemption. There are no fees to be paid to obtain an exemption letter.”
Comm Makamure said they had observed with great concern that some Government Ministries and departments were taking long to process applications even in circumstances where applicants met the legal requirements.
He said such delays might have an effect of promoting corruption.
“Zacc would like to urge the responsible Government Ministries and departments to speed up issuance of the exemption letters as long as the applicants meet all the requirements. Unnecessary delays will tempt some people to offer bribes which is a serious form of corruption,” said Comm Makamure.
Government has imposed a 30-day national lockdown which took effect on Tuesday which will see all businesses closing except those offering essential services, as part of measures to combat the rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic that has killed hundreds of people.
Government has also banned parties and weddings among other gatherings as part of an array of measures to arrest the spread of the disease.
Law enforcement agencies have indicated that they will be on high alert to ensure compliance with the measures. The Herald