'Hands off corruption busters'

HARARE - Government must stop using scare tactics against corruption busters such as the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), which should operate independently, Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) has said.

Tiz, a local chapter of the international movement leading the fight against corruption, said the compromised independence of anti-corruption institutions is an unwelcome situation as the country celebrates its 33th birthday.

“After three decades of independence expectations were that the government would have put solid anti-corruption structures that deter corruption, but this has not been the case.

“Corruption is not only a crime against humanity but it exacerbates the suffering of ordinary citizens and most vulnerable people in society,” said Tiz in a statement.

According to Tiz, 33 years since attainment of independence, Zimbabwe has a score of 20 on a scale of zero to 100. A score of zero is regarded as highly corrupt and 100 as very clean.

Tiz specifically named the “Willowgate and the Nieebgate” scandals as examples of a government that has failed to address crooked tendencies by public office bearers.

The anti-graft lobby group claims that government has come up with “cosmetic means of addressing the social scourge” including forming the toothless Zacc.

“To some extent, (the Willowgate scandal) gave the impression that the government would put the issue of corruption to rest, however, since then there has not been much impetus in fighting against corruption up until the creation of the Zimbabwe Anti-corruption Commission.

“Even then, Zacc is yet to effectively combat corruption.

“Recently Zacc officers were being victimised for trying to expose alleged corrupt deals at various government departments and agencies,” said Transparency International.

In 1988, government set up a commission which investigated the Willowvale motor scandal, more widely known as the Willowgate Scandal.

The scandal involved top government officials  and ministers who acquired vehicles from the firm for low prices which they resold for exorbitant profits.

A commission of inquiry resulted in top officials being exposed.

Today, those trying to investigate possible corruption are hounded, a situation Transparency said undermined Zimbabwe’s anti-corruption drive.

Early this year, gun-toting police officers blocked Zacc investigators who were armed with a warrant to search the offices of some influential ministers from President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.

This was after the Daily News exposed gross misrepresentation of indigenisation deals that resulted in Zimbabwe being prejudiced of millions of dollars in purported empowerment deals in a series now known as Nieebgate.

Zacc officials and a commissioner were arrested while a media onslaught was launched against them after an attempt to search offices of ministries run by Indigenisation minister Savior Kasukuwere and his Mines counterpart Obert Mpofu.

Tiz said such actions are inconsistent with a regime sincere about tackling corruption.

“As Zimbabweans commemorate political independence there is need for the government to ensure that freedom cascades into achieving a corruption-free Zimbabwe,” Tiz said.

Indigenisation minister Savior Kasukuwere, right, at the signing of Zimplats indigenisation plan. - Wendy Muperi

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