AUSTRALIA and the European Union (EU) have commended President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration for fighting corruption, but say the blitz against graft should not be targeted at political opponents, officials said.
By Tinashe Kairiza
Soon after being inaugurated as president following Mugabe’s resignation in November — after a military intervention — Mnangagwa declared he would fight corruption, including high-level corruption.
While delivering his inaugural State of the Nation Address in December, he declared his government would fiercely deal with corruption, emphasising there would be no “sacred cows”.
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has arrested some former ministers on corruption charges among them Ignatius Chombo, Walter Mzembi, Samuel Undenge and Walter Chidhakwa, who are all linked to the G40 faction, which had coalesced around former first lady Grace Mugabe.
EU Head of Delegation Phillipe Van Damme told the Zimbabwe Independent that while it was imperative to fight graft, the crackdown against corruption should not be targeted against political opponents.
“We also think that a selective fight against abuses and corruption undermines the rule of law.
“Corruption needs to be fought at all levels,” Van Damme said noting that the EU bloc was committed to deepening relations with Zimbabwe if the government implemented a raft of reforms to grow its economy, entrench democracy and ensure free and fair polls.
Outgoing Australian Ambassador Suzanne McCourt also commended Mnangagwa’s government for fighting graft, but said the blitz against corruption should be “transparent”.
She said it was imperative for Zimbabwe’s government to unleash a crackdown against corruption, particularly in the mining sector.
In 2016, Mugabe hinted that mining firms then operating in Chiadzwa had declared less than US$2 billion to Treasury despite earning a staggering US$15 billion in diamond revenue.
Mnangagwa’s administration has since dismissed Mugabe’s claims.
“We absolutely welcome the move to stamp out corruption.
“He needs to set an example at the very highest level and we hope that influences other levels of government and society to stamp out corruption,” McCourt said.
“One of the most important attributes about fighting corruption is transparency. Information about assets of ministers and members of parliament should also be made public.”
Deepening the rule of law and adhering to constitutionalism, McCourt said, would also strengthen Zimbabwe’s capacity to fight corruption.
“We suggest that Zimbabwe having a strong rule of law is the best approach and key to success in a whole range of spheres including economic spheres.
“So having prosecutions on corruption will go a long way,” she said.
Mabvuku-Tafara legislator James Maridadi last week argued in parliament that Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu, who was presiding over the mines portfolio when Chiadzwa diamonds were looted, should also be investigated as part of Mnangagwa’s anti-graft drive.
Mnangagwa this week ordered top government officials to publicly declare their assets within the next five weeks, in a bid to ensure transparency. The ultimatum will affect ministers, permanent secretaries, state enterprise heads and principal directors among others.
Corruption, which thrived during Mugabe’s 37-year rule, has been cited by Mnangagwa as one of the key factors frustrating efforts to set the country’s fragile economy on a firm growth trajectory.