THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) Asset Recovery and Forfeiture Unit handled 39 cases with a combined value of US$135 196 250 in 2023, it has been revealed.

Corruption remains one of the biggest economic stumbling blocks in Zimbabwe and is estimated to be costing the nation US$1,8 billion annually.

In a speech read on his behalf by his deputy Kuziwa Murapa at the two-day 2024 Loss Control Summit hosted by the Internal Control Institute of Zimbabwe on Monday this week, Zacc chairperson Michael Reza said the commission was stepping up efforts to target perpetrators of corruption.

“From the various discussions to be made, asset recovery is one of the topics to be covered. I am pleased to inform you esteemed delegates that the commission established the Asset Recovery and Forfeiture Unit in 2019 after the realisation that perpetrators of corruption are walking scot-free after being acquitted by the courts and continue to enjoy the proceeds of the corruption,” Reza said.

“In the year 2023 alone, the commission, through the Asset Recovery and Forfeiture Unit handled 39 cases with a combined value of US$135 196 250.”

The summit was held in Nyanga, under the theme Enhancing Effective Loss Control in Corporate Governance towards Vision 2030.

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“It’s through the leakages or losses masterminded by organised syndicates in the private and public sectors that the corrupt accumulate massive wealth at the expense of profitability, the bottom line which for corporates is the fundamental and most important factor, and the public sector, service delivery and qualitative socioeconomic development,” Reza said.

Although he said Zacc was committed to bringing an end to losses and leakages — both in the private and public sectors and recovering all the assets procured using proceeds of corruption — for years, Zacc has been accused of “catching and releasing” alleged corrupt kingpins.

Murapa, however, said they were not the ones releasing the guilty people.

“Zacc does not have authority or oversight on the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) or JSC (Judicial Service Commission), that is not part of our mandate and it’s the courts where these people are released,” he said.

Zacc has, meanwhile, also created and made public an Anti-Corruption Toolkit software designed to help organisations prevent corruption and losses.