HARARE – Government’s fight against corruption has gathered momentum with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) widening its dragnet to include the private sector and local authorities where the anti-graft body is investigating tender scams which might have prejudiced government tens of millions of dollars
This comes as former ministers and senior parastatal officials who served in deposed ex-president Robert Mugabe’s government have been arrested and brought before the courts in a crackdown which could net more former Zanu PF bigwigs in the coming week.
Zacc spokesperson Phyllis Chikundura told the Daily News yesterday she was still on holiday and would know the individuals and companies that are under investigation when she resumes work tomorrow.
However, authoritative sources at Zacc said the anti corruption body was almost finishing its investigation on several executives and council officials.
“We held preliminary investigations early this year but shelved them due to a number of reasons, some which were a matter of public knowledge.
“However, we have now gone back to those cases we had temporarily suspended due to various reasons and you shall know those involved once we have finished our investigations.
“We are not selectively applying the law. So far you have seen politicians but I can tell you we have widened our investigations to include local authorities and private players,” a senior Zacc official told the Daily News.
“You are going to see high profile politicians and well-known businesspeople appearing before the courts soon. So this idea of saying we are pursuing a factional agenda or selectively targeting people is not correct.
“If we have 100 corrupt people and start by arresting five, is that not a starting point? We have begun the fight against corruption in earnest,” added the Zacc official.
The Daily News can reveal that Zacc has been investigating the multi-million dollar tenders at Harare City Council and has been furnished with documentation regarding those tenders.
Last week, Zacc was said to be pursuing former Energy minister Samuel Undenge and his wife, Letina, in connection with the multi-million dollar energy tenders supplied to high-living Harare businessman, Wicknell Chivayo’s company, Intratek Zimbabwe.
Undenge has previously denied having played a role in Chivayo’s tenders by arguing that when he became minister in 2015, the Harare businessman had already clinched the tenders. Undenge took over from Dzikamai Mavhaire who was one of several bigwigs sacked from government and Zanu PF in the run up to the party’s congress of 2014.
Chivayo has been staring down the barrel over the past few weeks over the power deals which he signed with Zesa Holdings and its subsidiary the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) — which have come under the spotlight after his company, Intratek, apparently failed to deliver on them.
Among the deals, the burly businessman — who is often referred to by his associates as Sir Wicknell — was awarded a $200 million tender for the Gwanda Solar Project.
ZPC senior management now stand accused of advancing $5 million to him for this project’s pre-commencement works, despite Chivayo not providing a performance guarantee as required by law.
The performance guarantee acts as financial security and is supposed to be presented by the contractor before the commencement of works. It insulates the client in the event that the contractor fails to fulfil obligations set out in the contract.
Chivayo was also awarded a further $73 million for the refurbishment of the Harare Power Station, $163 million for the restoration of the Munyati Power Station, and $248 million for the Gairezi Power project by the ZPC.
Apart from Zesa board meeting to review Chivayo’s contracts, Parliament has said that it is gathering facts on his projects before making a determination.
Last week, Chivayo was ordered to submit his bank statements, contract documents and cash books to the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate as part of widening investigations into the Zesa deals.
Presenting his State-of-the-National Address (Sona) last week in a joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said his government would leave no stone unturned in the fight against graft.
“Corruption remains the major source of some of the problems we face as a country, and its retarding impact on national development cannot be overemphasised. The goal of my government is to build a new Zimbabwe based on the crown values of honesty, transparency, accountability and hard work.
“On individual cases of corruption, every case must be investigated and punished in accordance with the dictates of our laws. There should be no sacred cows. My government will have zero tolerance towards corruption and this has already begun,” Mnangagwa said.
A number of individuals who include former Cabinet ministers Joseph Made, Walter Chidakwa and ex-Midlands provincial affairs minister, Jason Machaya, were arrested last week in an expansion of the crackdown against corruption.
Former Finance minister Ignatius Chombo has so far been arrested twice on multiple charges that include fraud and abuse of office, while ex-Mines ministry permanent secretary, Francis Gudyanga was also nabbed on corruption-related charges.
Zimbabwe’s central bank has also ordered banks to freeze accounts belonging to former Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere amid claims that they were involved in corrupt activities while working for the Zanu PF government.
Mnangagwa’s sceptics have accused his government of pursuing a factional agenda by arresting senior officials and former Cabinet ministers in Mugabe’s government who were linked to the Generation-40 (G40)faction.
“The current charade is nowhere near fighting corruption. These are clear retributive attempts to punish those aligned to the now-defunct G40 cabal. No amount of propaganda can hide that fact.
“How else can you explain appointments of thoroughly discredited individuals like Obert Mpofu in this Cabinet. Most of these ruling party leaders including the president himself will have problems explaining their wealth.
“This government has paid lip service to the anti-corruption agenda only to further political goals since the era of Mugabe and nothing has changed. What we need is genuine commitment to anti-corruption as a principle and policies/ legislation that are set up and implemented without fear or favour,” political analyst, Gladys Hlatywayo told the Daily News.
However, other analysts have said it is too early to judge Mnangagwa and have urged caution as he implements his policies.
Some analysts have also said the fact that Mnangagwa’s government is arresting those alleged of corruption is a good start.
They have also argued that his recent moratorium on those who externalised foreign currency and stashed assets in foreign lands should not be looked through the factional lenses as this was targeted at business executives and corporate.
In a statement, early this month, Mnangagwa revealed that Operation Restore Legacy uncovered cases whereby huge sums of money and other assets were externalised by individuals and corporates, thereby prejudicing the country of the much-needed foreign currency.
Operation Restore Legacy refers to a military campaign that targeted “criminals” around the then president, Mugabe.
As a first step towards the recovery of the externalised funds and assets, Mnangagwa’s administration gazetted a three-month moratorium within which those involved in the practice can bring back the funds and assets with no questions being asked or risk charges being preferred against them.
“The period of this amnesty stretches from December 1, 2017 to the end of February 2018. Affected persons who wish to comply with this directive should liaise with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for the necessary facilitation and accounting.
“Upon the expiry of the three-month window, government will proceed to effect arrests of all those who would not have complied with this directive, and will ensure that they are prosecuted in terms of the country’s laws.
“Those affected are thus encouraged to take advantage of this three-month moratorium to return the illegally externalised funds and assets in order to avoid the pain and ignominy of being visited by the long arm of the law,” said Mnangagwa.
The externalisation of foreign currency is a serious offence in Zimbabwe covered under the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act (Chapter 9:24) and the Exchange Control Act [Chapter22:05].
In the event of a conviction, the courts can impose a fine not exceeding the value of the currency or a sentence of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, the whole of which can be suspended on condition that the currency is repatriated to Zimbabwe within a specified period.
The statutes also allow the courts to impose harsher penalties unless the convicted person satisfies the court that there are special reasons in the particular case, which shall be recorded by the court, why a lesser fine should be imposed.