Mugabe frustrates anti-graft drive

HARARE - Without political will and genuine desire to tackle corruption, Zimbabwe will continue to moan until thy kingdom!

So far, President Robert Mugabe has failed to show that demonstrable desire to signal prosecution of political heavyweights accused of amassing wealth through corrupt means.

This week, one of his ministers, firebrand deputy minister of justice, Obert Chaurura Gutu made a passionate plea to the President to bring to book “crooks and thieves” masquerading as government officials.

“We should capacitate our Anti-Corruption Commission. I have no qualms about the integrity of the men and women who are the commissioners.”

“The problem is not with the individuals. The problem is a political one. We do not have the political will; you cannot have Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC)that is poorly equipped. Crime in this country, especially high level crime, is sophisticated crime.

“You need a political leadership that is not going to shy from having the so called big fish arrested and prosecuted for corruption. The Anti-Corruption Commission is sitting on many cases involving highly placed politicians and other prominent people in Zimbabwe.

“The only thing you hear is about some small fish being arrested and taken to court. You never hear of the big fish. It doesn’t mean there is no corruption in high places. There is massive corruption in high places in Zimbabwe but because of lack of the relevant political will people are getting away with murder.

“You have got people who solicit for bribes; you have got people who abuse the government tendering system. The evidence is there but they are not being prosecuted. Without political will we can talk of corruption until thy kingdom come,” Gutu told the Daily News. The 50 year-old MDC T Harare province spokesperson and Senator for Chisipite, spoke as more doubts persist over Mugabe’s willingness to send signal against corruption.

At the 13th Zanu PF annual conference held in Gweru two weeks ago, Mugabe admitted to corruption amongst his aides.

He revealed he had been informed by former South African president Thabo Mbeki that some of his ministers had solicited for bribes.

Naturally, Mugabe, argue his doubters, should have named and ordered their arrests if these allegations were proven.

In the absence of such action, they remain strongly convinced that either he is just electioneering or waiting for the elections to deal with the claims.

But why wait, they are asking?

“Unfortunately in this country we have a situation where only the small fish get fried, the big boys get away with murder. I believe it is really a failure of leadership at a political level.

“Those ministers, the three Zanu PF ministers, who unashamedly approached Mbeki, have no business being in government. They are crooks masquerading as government officials. And crooks do not belong in the cabinet room and crooks belong in Chikurubi,” said Gutu.

The Anti-Corruption Commission has been frustrated in its efforts to have high level politicians and prominent personalities prosecuted for alleged crimes involving corruption.

Some of the cases include the plunder of Constituency Development Fund (CDF) which led to the arrests of MPs from both Zanu PF and the MDC.

But the charge towards the blitz has slowed following clashes between the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Attorney General’s (AG) office leading speculation that there is a bid to shield senior politicians from facing prosecution over graft.

“The prerogative to prosecute in this country lies with the Attorney General’s office. The Attorney General’s office is an independent office. We have no business directing to the Attorney General what to do, whom to prosecute and whom not to prosecute.

“Because if we were going to do that then that will utterly compromise the constitutional independence of the Attorney General’s office. The Attorney General has to be able to prosecute without any undue influence,” said Gutu.

As chairperson of the anti-corruption committee which is resident in his ministry, Gutu said they are rolling out a campaign to curb the scourge.

His committee includes two senior officials from the ACC.

 “I have got heaps and heaps of written reports from people complaining about corruption within the justice delivery system. So far we have unearthed some serious acts of corruption and we are working on them.

“We are not going to alert the culprits for now but whoever is corrupt in the justice delivery system, should know that big brother is watching and big brother will soon be catching up with them”.

Gutu who claims he is not just ‘‘crazy’’ about stuttering English Premiership underachievers — Arsenal — whom he says are his lifestyle, gave the Daily News a sneak preview of his relationship with boss Patrick Chinamasa.

Despite what appears to be at times, policy disconnects between the two, Gutu has serious respect for one of Zimbabwe’s sharpest lawyers.

“The relationship is as amicable as it can be. We do not need to be best of friends; we come from different political backgrounds. We come from different generations even in terms of age. I believe he is an honest minister.

“I don’t want to believe that Chinamasa is a corrupt man. If anything I believe he is strongly against corruption. For that I should respect him. So, to his credit, I have not come across any incident in this ministry which should show him off as a corrupt minister. For that reason I am happy,” Gutu opened up.

While Gutu and Chinamasa do not interfere in the affairs of the AG’s office, Gutu said there is lack of confidence in prosecuting authority at the moment.

“The AG is not our subordinate in the sense of the way he should run his affairs. At the same time we expect him to exercise his duties with integrity, with fairness and without any political bias.

“The AG has to be seen to be doing his job professionally without any bias in a manner which induces confidence.  The Joseph Mwale case is one of the several cases in our country where one tends to believe that perhaps the office of the AG is compromised politically.

“I can say this without any hesitation that if you have got people like Joseph Mwale who are roaming the streets free and there are dockets against them, there is evidence, very incriminating evidence against them and they are not brought before the courts, one then tends to believe the administration of justice has been compromised.

And that assertion I believe will be very justified in the circumstances. Imagine if Joseph Mwale was an MDC activist accused of killing a Zanu PF member, he will be rotting in prison right now,” said Gutu.

Mwale, a Central Intelligence Organisation operative (CIO) was involved in the brutal murder of Prime Minister’s Morgan Tsvangirai’s aide and driver — Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika — respectively, in the run up to the 2000 elections.

Former High Court judge, James Devitte who presided over the case described the deaths, a result of petrol bombing, as a wicked act. Mwale is walking free despite a conviction and the issuing of his warrant of arrest.

This year he was part of the security details that were in Tsvangirai’s party during his visit to Marange diamond fields.

“I have nothing against the AG as an individual. I am just saying we want an institution that would induce confidence that will make people confident to say whatever happens, we know that the prosecuting authority is fair, the prosecuting authority is not biased, it’s efficient and that it is a prosecuting authority that all Zimbabwean citizens can have confidence,” the former Fletcher High school and University of Zimbabwe student, told the Daily News.

Taking stock of the performance of the inclusive government, Gutu said not much had been achieved by the current union.

“This government is anything but united. We have a very hostile and faithful partner in the union in the name of Zanu PF. Zanu PF has always tried to outmuscle the MDC, to want to be seen as the big brother in this union. There has been a lot of slow action and a lot of hiccups. Largely it has not been, in my humble view, a spectacular success.

“The right honourable Prime Minister Dr Morgan Tsvangirai has actually been very patient. We should actually thank him for being a patient man. If the prime minister was a man of a short temper, an impatient man, this country would have imploded.

“This country would have been at war right now because the amount of provocation that the MDC component of government is subjected to by Zanu PF, the amount of provocation that he, as a person is subjected to, is such that if he was not a cool guy, a man with a cool temper; there would be fights.

“He has made sure that we are limping on. We are not fighting. We don’t have people in the streets with guns and machetes chopping each other face off. He has managed to absorb all that provocation; he has managed to be civil, to make jokes out of it.”

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