BY BLESSED MHLANGA
THE Special Anti-Corruption Unit (Sacu) in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office yesterday said it would soon be arresting high-profile looters implicated in Auditor-General Mildred Chiri’s audit reports.
Sacu head Thabani Mpofu said this yesterday during a Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) debate on corruption, where he stated that an investigation team was acting on allegations of corruption committed by government officials which were raised in Chiri’s reports.
Chiri has in the past years revealed massive corruption in government ministries and departments, which has cost the country millions of dollars.
“I can tell you that as Sacu, we have many dockets emanating from reports that have been investigated and refined from the AG’s Office… so they (reports) are not being ignored. I have got an officer sitting at a desk, who is considering the reports from the AG’s reports and liaising with the police on cases that we feel further investigations need to be done. Let me assure you that you will see prosecutions as we go forward on cases that come from the AG’s reports,” Mpofu said.
“I have a cardboard box full of dockets and cases that are being considered. I am not at liberty to come here and say that we have such and such cases being done.
Indeed, we get lots of reports from people and it’s not always possible for us to say listen, these are all the cases that we are considering. You will only hear about them when they come to court,” he said.
Over the years, Chiri’s audit reports have exposed serious allegations of looting at State enterprises and parastatals by ministers and top government officials.
Some of Chiri’s exposés include corruption at the National Social Security Authority (Nssa), Mines ministry and several other government departments, which had resulted in loss of millions of dollars and arrests of former ministers.
Refuting speculation that Sacu was being used to fight Mnangagwa’s political battles, Mpofu said a lot of work was being done behind the scenes, adding that heads would soon roll in government corridors.
Mpofu’s comments came soon after the Transparency International published the 2020 corruption perception index (CPI), where it was revealed that Zimbabwe was still deemed to be highly corrupt after it scored 24 out of 100 countries.
The Sacu boss said if Zimbabwe won the fight against corruption, then its rankings on CPI must improve.
He also said that there was need for depoliticisation and depolarisation of corruption. Mpofu called on the media to tone down on sensationalisation.
“If we are to win this fight against corruption, we must take politics out of it. The government tries to magnify — sometimes even exaggerates its successes, while the opposition tries to magnify and exaggerate its failures. This must stop,” he said.
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission has previously threatened to arrest looters of public funds, but their threats are yet to materialise.
TIZ head of programmes, Tafadzwa Chikumbu said: “The progress that we have made as a country in the fight against corruption has been obliterated by the continuous abuse of public resources, especially by politically-exposed persons in the likes of the former Health and Child Care minister (Obadiah Moyo). I think for 2020 that was the main issue hitting the headlines, but we strongly feel that the prevalence of officials using public office for private gain without facing consequences might also be the reason behind the little progress that we are making as a country.”
Chikumbu said the fight against corruption should not be measured by arrests of alleged corrupt individuals only, but also through the prosecution, conviction and sentencing of alleged offenders.
Government has been blamed for its alleged catch and release game in dealing with corruption.
Several top officials, including the former Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo and the former Public Service minister Priscah Mupfumira were arrested over allegations of corruption, but were merely paraded and later let loose.
“This fight to stop corruption in urban councils has been downplayed by most of the independent Press, heavily downplayed because it is perceived to paint opposition parties in a particular way. This is not good for things like CPI because people can only know about Zimbabwe from what they read about Zimbabwe.
“What we expect as Sacu, and what we ask for the public is to support the fight against corruption regardless of who the accused persons are, and which political formations they come from,” Mpofu said.
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