Its difficult to decide what to make of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s latest bid to tackle graft: Is it tokenism or the real deal? Is it a case of bolting the door after the horse has bolted or maybe we should just say better late than never.
What is clear is that corruption has held this country hostage over the past two decades and is certainly threatening to derail Mnangagwa’s Second Republic in its infancy. But the history of this administration’s fight against graft so far does not give us confidence that the chickens are finally coming home to roost for errant public officers. Cases involving former ministers Ignatius Chombo, Supa Mandiwanzira, Walter Mzembi, Walter Chidakwa, David Parirenyatwa and Joseph Made are dragging before the courts and the State has yet to win a significant conviction.
Last week, Tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira became yet another high profile public figure to face the music for her alleged misdeeds. State prosecutor Michael Reza told the court that Mupfumira had “hidden the money very well”, but there are five instances of NSSA transactions where the payee is “P. Mupfumira”. The circumstances around those payments are yet to be examined.
The second significant arrest involves Douglas Tapfuma, the former principal director of State residences who was picked up by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) late Tuesday afternoon.
Tapfuma has previously been linked to several corruption cases, including the disappearance of over US$6 million at Hwange Colliery, and faces allegations that he signed letters for friends authorising importation of their vehicles without paying the necessary duties.
Mnangagwa, surely, must have been aware of Tapfuma’s criminal disposition when he hired him as principal director of State residencies, a role he dismissed him from last November. He could have had him arrested then, but opted to shunt him to another top, but less glamorous role as the principal director for monitoring and evaluation in the Office of the President and Cabinet.
Corruption in the public service has, in recent years, been magnified largely thanks to the work of the Auditor-General, Mildred Chiri and her team. It means Zimbabweans are watching to see what the President will do next because many of the perpetrators are quite close to him personally.
The case of mining giant Hwange Colliery Company, which has been rendered comatose by greedy individuals, deserves Zacc’s attention. A forensic audit by Reynolds Tendai Muza, a forensic auditor and investigator with Ralph Bomment Greenacre and Reynolds, exposed that the once thriving mine was actually destroyed by very powerful persons, some of who are currently serving in government.
Some of the alleged big names include current Mines minister Winstone Chitando, who was once the HCCL board chairperson and former Mines deputy minister Fred Moyo.
Zanu PF youth have come out swinging against some of Mnangagwa’s close allies and key officials, including Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu, central bank governor John Mangudya, Joram Gumbo, who is now minister of State for Presidential Affairs in charge of Implementation and Monitoring after a torrid time in the energy portfolio, and the children of his aide Chris Mutsvangwa, whose wife Monica is the Media, Information and Broadcasting Services minister.
How far Mnangagwa is willing to prosecute will largely inform the nation of his seriousness in tackling graft.