HARARE – Politicians and senior Government officials bullying health officials to release their friends and relatives held in Covid-19 quarantine will be arrested, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has warned.
The commission is investigating reports of prominent people accused of facilitating the release of those being held in quarantine before being cleared by Covid-19 tests and undergoing the minimum quarantine in a designated centre.
The authorities have already shortened quarantine in centres so long as they can trust those who must be isolated will keep promises to stay at home, but even here they insist on a negative test before they allow home-quarantine for the rest of the 21 days.
ZACC chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo said using political muscle to release relatives and friends from quarantine was tantamount to corruption and those found on the wrong side of the law would be arrested.
“We strongly warn politicians, ministers and other Government officials against abusing their powers to remove people from quarantine in this Covid-19 era.
“As ZACC, we will not hesitate to arrest those who commit such a serious offence. That should never be done and we will arrest them without fear or favour,” said Justice Matanda-Moyo.
She said such public figures would be breaching the trust bestowed on them as leaders in communities.
“We expect those people to be protectors of the masses. This becomes serious in the sense that we haven’t yet found a cure for the pandemic and people are dying worldwide,” she said.
Meanwhile, Justice Matanda-Moyo said investigations were underway to establish the circumstances under which a person in Covid-19 quarantine who was reported to be a relative to a minister was released from quarantine.
“We gathered information that the person was corruptly released from quarantine after some intervention by a relative who is a minister. We are investigating the case and if anyone is found on the wrong side of the law, he or she will be prosecuted. Whose relatives should be quarantined? Does that mean patients related to ministers or other high-ranking officials cannot spread the virus?” said Justice Matanda-Moyo.
Her office wrote at the end of last week to the Ministry of Health and Child Care to get more details on the case but the Permanent Secretary Dr Agnes Mahomva was yet to respond. – Herald