Mnangagwa govt targets Zanu-PF crooks

 Mnangagwa govt targets Zanu-PF crooks
Published: 05 October 2019
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa's government has launched a fresh blitz against Zanu-PF bigwigs and other crooks who have stashed billions of United States Dollars abroad the Daily News reports. This comes after Zimbabwe recently reached agreements with some of the countries where the looters have apparently hidden their ill-gotten riches with authorities also saying the country is losing more than US$3 billion a year to corruption, tax fraud,  money laundering and smuggling.

At the same time the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) said yesterday that it had seized 10 properties in the leafy Harare suburb of Borrowdale, as it intensifies its blitz against graft.

The anti-graft body, whose commissioners have been threatened with death by some of the targeted individuals, also announced that it had reached agreements with foreign countries to facilitate the return of stolen money and proceeds of crime.

Zacc chairperson Loice Matanda-Moyo said among the first countries that Zimbabwe was set to sign such agreements was Botswana.

"As Zacc, our main focus is on investigations for the purposes of prosecution and asset recovery.

"When I was appointed to this position, I made it a point and I stressed that the new Zacc would focus on asset recovery, because people should not benefit from the proceeds of crime.

"In two weeks' time I will be signing a MoU (memorandum of understanding) with Botswana and another country so that it becomes easier for us to recover externalised assets across the border and internationally," Matanda-Moyo said.

She disclosed this as she was officiating at the signing of MoUs between Zacc and the University of Zimbabwe, the auditor general's office, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's Financial Intelligence Unit, the Department of Immigration, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the National Prosecuting Authority in a bid to strengthen the collaboration in the fight against corruption in the country.

The new blitz against Zanu-PF bigwigs and other crooks in the private sector comes nearly two years after Mnangagwa issued a three-month moratorium on people who had externalised foreign currency which he said then would help his government to recover some of the money that was stolen during the late former president Robert Mugabe's time in power.

But the ensuing naming and shaming of the alleged looters triggered stinging responses from both business and legal experts, who pointed to the risk of the move attracting lawsuits.

That earlier crackdown yielded no tangible benefits, although Mnangagwa later said his government had privately engaged some of the culprits who had allegedly gone on to repatriate nearly US$900 million.

Yesterday, Matanda-Moyo said Zacc had drawn up its own list of people who it suspected of externalising assets and funds. This list was different from the one released by Mnangagwa in March 2018.

"We have our own investigations that we are currently carrying out and our own list of people who have externalised assets and funds. So, once we complete our investigations we are going to recover those assets.

"This is why we are in the process of signing MoUs with international organisations which will assist us in recovering those funds that were illicitly siphoned from the country," she said.

She also called for more legal instruments to enhance the fight against corruption.

"Our laws are not user-friendly... for instance, we signed MoUs with universities because we want those universities to help us draft legislation which will make it easier to deal with corruption matters.

"Even the rules of the courts must change. As you can see now, we have corruption courts only at the magistrates' level and once you go to the superior courts, corruption matters are not handled with priority," she said.

Matanda-Moyo also said the lack of robust laws and the failure by superior courts to prioritise corruption cases were some of the main reasons why it was difficult to get convictions and to recover stolen assets as it took longer to prosecute corrupt individuals.

She said Zacc was committed to nailing people who were fuelling corruption, while also dismissing recent death threats directed at her and some members of the anti-graft body as mere threats.

"In this game (of fighting corruption) it is normal to be threatened, but we mustn't take those threats too far because they are just meaningless.

"When you try to get properties from persons they get offended and they want to try and hold on to those properties, but they should realise that it's a loss to all.

"We are not backing off ... we are go-ing to recover those properties no matter what," Matanda-Moyo said.

Mnangagwa and his government have been accused of selectively prosecuting people accused of corruption with the United States government saying in July that Harare was focusing on "small fish".

"The government has a track record of prosecuting individuals selectively, focusing on those who have fallen out of favour with the ruling party and ignoring transgressions by members of the favoured elite.

"Accusations of corruption seldom result in formal charges and convictions.

"Since December 2017, Zacc has arrested and brought before the courts a number of high-ranking officials, mostly aligned to the Mugabe faction from the previous government.

"In spite of this, the courts have not sent many of the accused persons to prison," it said then.

Indeed, and since Mnangagwa replaced Mugabe, several senior Zanu-PF officials mainly from the vanquished Generation 40 (G40) faction have been arrested and tried in the courts.

However, one of the few high profile convictions of these bigwigs has been that of former Energy minister Samuel Undenge, who was convicted for criminal abuse of his office.

He was sentenced to serve an effective two-and-a-half years in prison after the courts suspended the remainder of his four-year conviction, on condition of good behaviour.

But Undenge is out of custody pending the outcome of his appeal against both his conviction and sentencing.
- dailynews
Tags: Mnangagwa,


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