BY OBEY MANAYITI/VENERANDA LANGA/SHINGIRAI VAMBE
ENVIRONMENT, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Priscah Mupfumira was yesterday picked up for questioning by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) reportedly over a litany of allegations involving the National Social Security Authority (NSSA).
Mupfumira, a Zanu PF politburo member, becomes the first high profile government official to be arraigned before the newly-assembled anti-graft body chaired by Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo.
Justice Matanda-Moyo confirmed that Zacc was questioning Mupfumira.
“Questioning is still underway. After questioning that is when we decide to arrest her or not,” she said without divulging details of the investigations.
Sources at Zacc said Mupfumira was detained at Avondale Police Station and is likely to face charges around criminal abuse of office. Some of the allegations
reportedly emanate from her tenure as Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister where it is alleged that NSSA lost substantial amounts of money to
dubious investments allegedly at her behest.
Recently, the Zanu PF youth league “named and shamed” a group of leaders they alleged were corrupt, among them Mupfumira, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
governor John Mangudya, party secretary for administration Obert Mpofu and Minister in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Office Joram Gumbo.
Zanu PF youth boss Pupurai Togarepi, however, took a measured stand yesterday, preferring not to celebrate the nabbing of his fellow politburo member.
“We await the outcome of investigations by Zacc on this case and maybe others with a lot of interest. As the youth league, we are confident that the truth will come out,” he said. Mnangagwa is in the process of setting up a commission to investigate corruption in Zanu PF.
A fierce critic of Mupfumira and Norton MP, Temba Mliswa (independent) said Mnangagwa had taken a bold move to make accountable his top lieutenants.
Mupfumira’s arrest followed an uproar in Parliament on Wednesday over failure by Labour minister Sekai Nzenza to table the explosive NSSA forensic report with opposition MPs calling for her to be charged with contempt of Parliament for sitting on the document.
Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure (MDC Alliance) first raised the issue as well as Harare East MP Tendai Biti (MDC Alliance) on Tuesday, saying Nzenza must table
the report immediately. Two weeks ago, Nzenza had promised the House that she will bring the NSSA report before Parliament in a fortnight.
“I would like to first apologise to this House for having given an unrealistic time to present the NSSA forensic report. However, we have engaged a team of
lawyers to unpack the report and in the next few days I shall be presenting a ministerial statement on it,” Nzenza said.
Opposition MPs could have none of it, saying when the Zinara forensic audit report was released by the Auditor-General Mildred Chiri it was immediately tabled
before Parliament by Transport minister Joel Biggie Matiza.
MPs said the Constitution obliged ministers to table the AG’s reports within seven days of their release.
MDC chief whip Prosper Mutseyami called for charges of contempt of Parliament on Nzenza.
“A judgment was made by the Speaker that Nzenza must bring the report within two weeks and it will be inappropriate for this House to give her more time. The
minister cannot do whatever she wants. We want the report now or she be charged with contempt of Parliament,” he said.
Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi jumped to Nzenza’s rescue.
“While I appreciate the ruling made by the Speaker Jacob Mudenda that she brings the report in two weeks there is a lacuna that exist in that the forensic
audit was made on instigation by the Executive for purposes of the Executive acting on it. It will not be proper for the Executive to be rushed to table it,” he said.
But Gonese chipped in and pointed out that there was the doctrine of separation of powers which must be respected by the Executive and audit reports must be
tabled before Parliament.
Ziyambi stuck to his guns, saying the forensic audit was ordered by the Executive and Nzenza will release it after she has finished studying it.