BY BRIAN CHITEMBA
THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has instituted legal processes to seize properties valued at US$6,5 million (ZW$75 581 395) owned by Zimbabweans in the Isle of Man.
The Isle of Man is a self-governing British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland.
To recover the properties suspected to be bought through proceeds of crime, Zacc has sought mutual legal assistance with authorities in the Isle of Man. Similar efforts are being pursued in South Africa where three cases are already in court.
Names of the owners of the properties could not be immediately released as the commission cited ongoing investigations and legal processes.
The anti-graft body’s spokesman John Makamure said: “We are leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that we win the fight against corruption in the country.”
He said as of September 3, Zacc had referred seven cases to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and seized properties worth US$2 884 000 (ZW$33 534 883).
Zacc is targeting to seize and forfeit 20 mansions valued at ZW$600 million (US$7 million) by the end of the year.
Some of the high-profile figures who have already lost houses include former police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri, former Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira and ex-Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (Zinara) chief executive officer Frank Chitukutuku. Others are former Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi, Douglas Tapfuma, ex-principal director State Residences and Registrar-General Clement Masango.
Makamure said while they were targeting 180 dockets to the NPA for prosecution in 2021, as of September 3, 103 dockets had been submitted.
He said: “The significance of this figure should be understood in the context of the Covid-19 regulations that interrupted the smooth operations of the commission. Nonetheless, the commission is quite confident that the target would be achieved, perhaps even surpassed.
“Zacc has made numerous arrests this year, thanks largely to the rolling out of compliance and systems review and spot-checks in local authorities and government ministries and departments. In the first week of September, Zacc arrested three chief executive officers of local authorities in Mudzi, Muzarabani and Guruve and senior council officials from Umguza, Mutare and Norton.”
Makamure told the Zimbabwe Independent that Zacc was acting on corruption cases exposed by the Auditor-General’s report.
“Zacc has taken note of the reports. We take all reports of corruption, no matter how minute, seriously and we treat them as such. A team of competent personnel is analysing all the information as we speak. We have also begun engagements with the 250 institutions covered in the Auditor-General’s report to assist them on compliance issues. Already the commission has convened two roundtables with internal auditors to strengthen their capacity in picking and reporting red flags while helping in the implementation of the AG’s recommendations.”
To bolster investigations, Makamure said, Zacc recruited experts for several strategic positions to revitalise the commission.
“This has also enabled us to begin the decentralisation of our offices to other parts of the country. Apart from Harare where we now have four offices, we have others in Bulawayo and Gweru and last week, we opened another office in Masvingo. Mutare and Chinhoyi will be coming on stream soon. Vacancy notices were also put out and the commission will soon finalise recruitment of more professionals to fill in the vacant and newly created posts,” he said.
“The idea is to bring dynamism to the operations of the commission and I must say, so far, we are doing commendably well. Apart from the recruitment, we are continuously creating opportunities for our staff to receive further training in the fight against corruption and this has been done internally and also with the help of other organisations both in and outside Zimbabwe.
“Since the appointment of the current commission in 2019, Zacc saw a significant budget allocation compared to 2020. This budget has gone a long way in enabling the commission to execute its mandate. Among other significant developments, Zacc acquired vehicles for field use.
“Of course we still request for more resources but at least what we have now has enabled us to enhance our operations. We are engaging the government to retain a percentage of assets recovered to finance the increased scope of our operations brought about by decentralisation and the demands of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (2020–2024).”