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Depositors’ protector under probe for graft

BRIAN CHITEMBA/KUDZAI KUWAZA
THE Deposit Protection Corporation (DPC), which is mandated to protect depositors who lose their money when banks fail, is under investigation by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) for alleged financial impropriety.

This follows an exposé by a whistleblower, who lifted the lid on the behind-the-scenes goings on at DPC. Zacc even praised the whistleblower, who cannot be named to protect his identity, as “valiant”.

The investigation is likely to unearth startling revelations  about financial misappropriation at the company.

The probe comes at a time when the DPC CEO Vusilizwe Vuma has stepped down from the organisation with effect from April 1.

Former DPC CEO Vusilizwe Vuma

Zacc spokesperson John Makamure yesterday confirmed that the investigation over alleged DPC corruption was underway.

He was tight-lipped on the nature of charges likely to face those under probe, saying the investigation was still in its preliminary stages.

Makamure said: “Zacc is working on a case involving the DPC. However, at this stage, it is premature to release more details. We want to applaud the valiant efforts by whistleblowers, who continue to expose cases of corruption.”

He said the Justice and Parliamentary Affairs ministry should fast-track the Whistleblower Protection Bill to ensure protection of those who expose corruption from being victimised by suspects.

“We call upon the Justice and Parliamentary Affairs ministry to expedite enactment of whistleblower and witness protection legislation after Cabinet approved the principles,” Makamure said.

Approached for comment last night, Vuma expressed ignorance over the Zacc investigation.

“Maybe they know better. I don’t know anything about that (the investigation),” Vuma said.

But Zimbabwe Independent sources insisted that Vuma was forced to step down amid a brewing storm over alleged financial misappropriation.

“The DPC is under investigation and this could have led to leadership changes at the corporation. The issues are around financial misappropriation and it boggles the mind that the same company that is supposed to protect depositors is alleged to be involved in corruption-related matters,” the source, who asked not to be named for professional reasons, said.

The DPC board has already started recruitment processes for a new CEO in line with the provisions of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act (Chapter 10: 31).

Meanwhile, Gift Chirozva is the acting CEO.

DPC is an independent statutory body established by the government in terms of the DPC Act (Chapter 24:29) to administer the Deposit Protection Scheme in Zimbabwe and started operations on July 1, 2003, with the objective to protect depositors by providing compensation in the event of failure of a member institution.

The corporation also aims at contributing towards the stability and public confidence in the country’s financial system, enhancing competition between institutions in the financial system, promoting sound business practices in contributory institutions and protecting the fund against loss.

But the company has now come under spotlight for the wrong reasons; corruption allegations, now under the hawk eye of Zacc led by Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo.

Zacc has received stinking criticism over reported failures to strongly deal with corruption, which is bleeding the economy. Estimates suggest that about US$2 billion is lost annually due to illicit financial flows.

The Independent understands that following a tip-off, the anti-graft body is perusing documents to unearth firm evidence on the alleged mishandling of funds at the DPC.

Thereafter, heads are expected to roll as anyone found on the wrong side of the law will face the music.

“It will certainly not end well at the DPC as there are issues about how some funds were used. The investigation will ascertain whether there is a prima facie case or not but, yes, an active investigation is ongoing,” the source said.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has been criticised for failing to decisively deal with corruption, has in recent months wielded the axe against the former Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi, whom he accused of sleeping on duty.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Hodzi was appointed as head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in 2019 after replacing Ray Goba.

Zacc commissioner Frank Muchengwa was recently fired for gross misconduct following recommendations by a tribunal led by retired Justice Nicholas Ndou.

The anti-corruption body has submitted 180 cases to the NPA for prosecution with only 12 convictions, attracting criticism over the commission’s capacity to combat graft.

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