BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has lost its bid to be given prosecuting powers over graft cases it investigates after government set up anti-corruption courts.
Zacc had requested for prosecuting powers following complaints by the public that the fight against corruption was being weakened by the prevailing “catch and release” system.
Cases of graft investigated by Zacc are referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for prosecution, but seem to eventually collapse.
Zacc chairperson Loice Matanda-Moyo told stakeholders at the commission’s annual general meeting in Harare last Thursday that the anti-corruption body will not be able to prosecute its cases because government had set up anti-corruption courts throughout the country.
“Yes, we had requested prosecuting powers, but NPA is vested with the authority to prosecute all crimes and not only corruption cases,” Matanda-Moyo said.
“However, a solution has been found. The Judicial Service Commission has now opened the anti-corruption courts in all the 10 provinces. As we speak, there are anti-corruption courts centred in all the provinces. The NPA has also seconded officers to these courts and this year alone more than 102 cases have been set down and they are at various stages of prosecution. At the moment, Zacc and the NPA are working well. The collaboration is good and we believe that matters are now being processed.”
Anti-corruption activists have bemoaned lack of political will to eradicate graft in the country where politically-connected suspects are released before their cases go through full trial.
In 2020, Harare magistrate Bianca Makwande lamented unnecessary delays in concluding corruption cases before the courts.
Former Health minister Obadiah Moyo, who was facing charges of abusing US$60 million COVID-19 funds, was released after he successfully applied for exception of charges arguing that the facts outlined by the State did not constitute an offence.
Last year, Zacc signed a memorandum of understanding with the NPA to ensure that the two institutions co-ordinate on graft cases to facilitate speedy processing.
Acting Prosecutor-General Nelson Mutsonziwa referred questions to NPA spokesperson Angeline Munyeriwa, who requested all questions in writing. She, however, had not yet responded to the questions by the time of going to print.
Transparency International Zimbabwe executive director Tafadzwa Chikumbu said: “What is important is the co-ordination between the two institutions in the monitoring and evaluation process that allows all cases brought to the NPA to be prosecuted. Remember in the past, police also had prosecuting powers, but it was then reversed, not because they were not able to prosecute, but because of the considerations of separation of powers. This is a very delicate issue which only requires coordination. Corruption cases are different from any other cases we might talk of. They are cases of national interest and attract public attention.”
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