GOVERNMENT appeared to be succeeding this week in its effort to bury a report which alleges massive corruption by senior politicians at state-owned steel
-making enterprise, Zisco.
A parliamentary portfolio committee dealing with the issue failed to get the report, with ministers
giving excuses as to why the report could not be released.
This confirmed widespread fears that government was now determined to cover-up the issue which could claim prominent political casualties.
Committee chairman Enock Porusingazi said this week the report had vanished. He said efforts by his committee to get it had been blocked by responsible authorities.
“Mystery now surrounds the report. (Anti-Corruption minister Paul) Mangwana says he doesn’t have it. (Industry and International Trade minister Obert) Mpofu can’t produce it either,” Porusingazi said.
“But someone will have to produce that report. People want to know what happened at Zisco. Our mandate as a committee is to exercise oversight on such issues and hold the executive accountable.”
Mangwana, who two weeks ago threatened that those involved would be arrested if there was enough evidence to prosecute them, was quoted this week on the Voice of America saying he could not discuss the report because it was an “intelligence” document. “That is an intelligence report, I can’t discuss it with the media,” he said.
Mangwana said investigations were going on into the issue but sounded noncommittal when asked when they would end and action taken. He said he did not know.
There seems to be a retreat by Mangwana and Mpofu who were at the forefront of the issue two weeks ago. Although Mangwana initially said those involved — be they ministers or MPs — would be arrested, he is no longer pushing that line.
“Very soon we will take action and police will make arrests of those who were involved in corruption at Ziscosteel irrespective of their political or social status,” Mangwana said two weeks ago.
“It doesn’t matter if they are ministers or MPs. As long as they were involved they will be arrested. If we find that a crime was committed by whoever we will call in the police and provide evidence for prosecution.”
Sources said members of Porusingazi’s committee this week tried in vain to secure Mangwana’s cooperation on the issue. Mpofu did not cooperate either, MPs said.
Mpofu, who was widely quoted two weeks ago as saying “influential people” had pillaged Zisco through “underhand dealings that have left the company bleeding”, has been trying to backtrack on his remarks.
Mpofu’s new line now appears to be that ministers and MPs did not loot Zisco but their companies benefited from
contracts, while the state firm made huge losses.
Sources said government has intimidated ministers and others who were privy to the findings of the report — compiled by the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate which is controlled by the Ministry of Finance and state security agents — not to release the report or its contents. The few copies that were handed out have now been recalled, it is understood.
The report is understood to contain names of influential politicians and their cronies who practically milked Zisco dry. The steel-making firm has been sustained through taxpayers’ funds as a public enterprise. About $2 trillion (in old currency) was poured in recently to save it from collapse.
Observers say attempts to suppress the report clearly shows government is not fully committed to combating corruption in its ranks where it is apparently rampant.