THE year 2018 was characterised by arrests of most high profile figures for corruption, including former ministers, senior government officials and public entity bosses who were serving in the old dispensation led by former President Robert Mugabe.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Since the coming in of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who launched an anti-corruption unit to fight the scourge which has ravaged the economy citizens have seen some once feared individuals being arrested and hauled before the courts.
Several former Cabinet ministers were arrested for criminal abuse of office and corruption committed during Mugabe’s tenure and these include Samuel Undenge (Energy), who was mid-year convicted of aiding former Zanu PF Highfield West legislator, Psychology Maziwisa and television personality Oscar Pambuka to swindle Zimbabwe Power Company of $12 650 in a botched public relations deal.
Undenge was sentenced to five years imprisonment after being convicted by regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya. He later successfully applied for bail pending appeal and is out of custody.
Pambuka and Maziwisa were jailed six-and-half-years for fraud after billing Zimbabwe Power Company $12 650 for work they did not do.
The pair also later successfully applied for bail pending appeal of conviction and sentence and was granted $800 each bail by Harare magistrate Lazini Ncube.
Undenge was also acquitted of aiding controversial businessman Wicknell Chivayo to get a $178 million ZPC tender.
Former Information Communication Technology minister and Zanu PF legislator for Nyanga South Supa Mandiwanzira was also arrested for criminal abuse of office after he allegedly handpicked a company he had close links to do consultancy work for NetOne.
Former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere was also arrested for parcelling land to former First Lady Grace Mugabe’s sister Shuvai Gumbochuma, who was also later arrested for falsifying documents to get the same land.
Kasukuwere’s trial is yet to resume after he applied for a review of his application for exception to the charges to the High Court which had been dismissed by presiding magistrate Mujaya. He challenged the facts of the State outline and the charge sheet saying the facts do not disclose an offence.
The former minister was also acquitted of the border jumping charges levelled against him after he fled the country during the coup in November 2017 using an undesignated exit point.
Kasukuwere challenged that his life was in danger after a volley of bullets was fired at his property in Borrowdale. The court went for an inspection in loco and found bullet holes all over the property.
Former Tourism minister Walter Mzembi was also arrested for fraud and criminal abuse of office committed during his tenure. Mzembi’s trial has been delayed due to his illness.
Former Health minister David Parirenyatwa was also arrested for appointing his relative to National Pharmaceutical Company. Parirenyatwa’s trial is yet to start.
Former Mines minister Walter Chidakwa was also arrested for appointing his ex-permanent secretary Francis Gudyanga to act as Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ)’s sole board member from December 2013 to September 2016, pocketing more than $30 000 in purported board fees.
Chidakwa, who is charged together with Gudyanga, is challenging the powers of the prosecutors appointed by the President.
Former Midlands State minister Jason Machaya also appeared on trial for criminal abuse of office allegations after he allegedly demanded land in Gokwe contrary to procedures of the Local Government Act.
Former Finance minister Ignatius Chombo who was taken in by members of the military during the coup before they handed him over to the police to face corruption allegations successfully applied for stay of proceedings pending Constitutional Court determination challenging his arrest.
Chombo said he was unlawfully detained by the military and seeks the court to determine that his arrest was unlawful and permanently stay the proceedings.
Several Zesa bosses were last year arrested over more than $11 million fraud.
Other top executives who were arraigned before the courts include Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe director of financial intelligence, Mirirai Chiremba, National Social Security Authority managers Elizabeth Chitiga and James Chiuta Tirivavi, former Zimbabwe Revenue Authority boss Gershem Pasi, former Netone chief executive Reward Kangai, Cottco managers including acting general manager Pius Manamike.
Suspended University of Zimbabwe vice-chancellor Levi Nyagura, who is facing allegations of single-handedly helping former First Lady Grace Mugabe to attain a fraudulent PhD frequently appeared in court last year. However, his trial is yet to resume after he successfully applied to the High Court stopping the special prosecutor appointed by the President from handling his case.
MDC deputy president Morgen Komichi appeared in court facing allegations of disrupting the announcement of the July 30 presidential election results.
MDC deputy chairperson Tendai Biti also claimed the State agents with the help of Zambian officials violated the international laws governing the refugees by abducting him in that country and bring him back to Zimbabwe in violation of the High Court of Zambia order stopping him from deportation.
Prosecutor Michael Reza had to be removed from prosecuting Biti by magistrate Grace Takundwa for exhibiting partiality and bias towards Biti. Takundwa later granted an application to live broadcast proceedings, saying the matter is of public interest.
Takundwa’s decision to grant live broadcast of proceedings was not received well with Reza describing her decision as “very stupid or very brave if not both”.
The matter was then postponed to January 21 for trial.
Socialite and businessman Genius Kadungure popularly known as Ginimbi was arrested twice for fraud and money laundering.
Kadungure was being accused together with Wicknell Chivayo of conning Zanu PF Chegutu West legislator Dexter Nduna (Zanu PF) and another Kadoma businessman Ivon Gatawa of a total R1,5 million.
But the two were acquitted by Harare magistrate Morgan Nemadire for lack of evidence.
Kadungure is also on remand for money laundering charges
after he failed a lifestyle audit interview.