BY XOLISANI NCUBE/RICHARD CHIDZA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday disbanded the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) amid claims that it had become a white elephant, with some of the members allegedly involved in corrupt activities, while others were dabbling in factional politics.
As reported by our sister paper, The Standard, three weeks ago, Mnangagwa, through his officials, reportedly forced Zacc chairperson Job Whabira and his commissioners to resign so that a new team could be established.
Justice ministry secretary Virginia Mabiza is tipped to take over as Zacc chairperson once Parliament invites public nominations and interviews.
In a statement issued by Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, Whabira resigned effective yesterday, while other commissioners were on leave pending finalisation of their exit packages.
“In the meantime, His Excellency, the President will shortly appoint a new chairperson in terms of section 254 (1) of the Constitution and request for nominees from the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders in terms of section 254 (2) of the Constitution towards the appointment of the rest of the commissioners,” Sibanda said in a statement.
Senior government sources said at least each commissioner was offered not less than $200 000 as exit package and two vehicles they were using to entice them to quit.
At the height of Zanu PF factional fights pitting a camp that was supporting former President Robert Mugabe and Mnangagwa, Zacc was accused of pursuing a divisive agenda in its investigations as it was seen to be targeting those who were backing the former ruler.
But after his ascendency to power, Mnangagwa established a separate unit headed by lawyer Thabani Mpofu to fight graft as he accused Zacc of being toothless.
In the build-up to the resignation, Zacc commissioners met Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, where they were told to resign.
Although the announcement was made yesterday, sources said Whabira tendered his resignation after the meeting with Chiwenga and Ziyambi, but held on as negotiations for an exit package were underway.
At the time, Ziyambi described the meeting with the Zacc commissioners as a restructuring exercise, but ruled out that the process was targeting individuals.
Other members of the outgoing commission are Nanette Silukhuni, Goodson Nguni, Christine Fundira, Denford Chirindo, Cathy Muchechetere, Farai Mashonganyika and Boyana Ndou.
Mnangagwa on Wednesday told journalists at State House that Zacc was “rotten”.
“Zacc is corrupt. We will have to attend to it very quickly. In fact, I will be making a statement on this issue next week,” the President said.
Asked if he was happy with progress made in the fight against corruption since it was one of his key campaign promises and his administration’s anchor policy after he took over from Mugabe, Mnangagwa said he had been disappointed.
“We need a mindset change if we are to defeat corruption. We have also realised that we have been fighting corruption using people who are deeply involved.
“They will tell you, ‘President we are ready to fight corruption’, but as soon as they see your back they are laughing at you. But not to worry, we will deal with that. These are symptoms of a system that has become rotten to the core,” he said.