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Anti-Corruption body under new pressure over police chief corruption investigation

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THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) is coming under growing pressure internally and externally to deal with the corruption complaints without fear or favour against police commissioner-general Godwin Matanga amid worries that selective investigations will dent its image and credibility irretrievably.

OWEN GAGARE
Inside sources within Zacc corridors of power at its Mount Pleasant headquarters in Harare say there is a huge push by commissioners and investigators, as well as outside forces, to ensure that Zacc is not seen as unwilling or unable, or both, to investigate certain powerful and well-connected people even though corruption allegations have been filed against them.

Norton independent MP Temba Mliswa, a self-styled corruption buster who has for years been accused by British investor Paul Westwood of illegally grabbing his private enterprise and its assets, in November wrote to the Zacc demanding the anti-graft body investigate Matanga on a series of allegations, including flouting tender procedures through the purchase of luxury cars for senior officers.
Zacc commissioners say the Matanga case is moving, but complicated by politics.

“The Matanga case is a burning issue at Zacc. Internally, a lot of work has been done and there is movement. However, the problem is that such cases are political by nature. So the strategy and pace with which we move are dictated by politics – both inside and outside Zacc,” a Zacc investigator told The NewsHawks.

“It’s like one case we have involving corruption by a judge. Commissioners want to move, but some Zacc leaders are reluctant. It’s also like the Joram Gumbo case, which is also a typical example. And then there are all these stories about big money cartels around the President. People are asking why are you not acting? These are important issues that we can’t ignore. In investigating corruption, you have to follow, but are not always following the money – especially big money, as are supposed to. These issues are putting us here under pressure.

“For us to maintain professionalism and credibility, we have to investigate everybody without fear or favour. The moment we are seen as only investigating small fish and not big fish or certain people, then we will be discredited.”  

“The Gumbo case is a major test. There is a case and the evidence is there, so people are asking what’s the problem,” another commissioner said. “We need to investigate all cases even-handedly.”

Zacc chair Loyce Matanda-Moyo, a source said, has been repeatedly told to wait before further holding Gumbo’s feet to the fire. “She has been told by powerful offices to wait with the Gumbo case,” the source added.

Gumbo, a former Transport and Energy minister, was last year arrested and hauled before the courts on criminal abuse of office charges arising from four separate counts of corruption involving US$37 million.

In a subsequent cabinet reshuffle, Mnangagwa demoted Gumbo, but retained him in his office as Minister of State for Presidential Affairs (Monitoring and Implementation of Government Programmes),showing he still supported him despite the corruption allegations against him.

Mliswa recently escalated his fight against Matanga by writing to the Auditor-General requesting an urgent forensic audit of the law enforcement agency’s financial affairs.

According to a letter seen by The NewsHawks, Mliswa wants Auditor-General Mildred Chiri to go through the police financial books to ascertain whether or not there have been irregular transactions.

“In my mandated role of legislation, representation and oversight Mliswa escalates fight against Matanga and in the context of national interest, I hereby lodge an official request for a widescale forensic audit to be conducted at the Zimbabwe Republic Police for the period 2017 to present day,” wrote Mliswa in a letter dated 5 November.

“This request for investigation is premised on the overwhelming evidence as received both orally and in writing of numerous alleged irregularities, cases of corruption and abuse of office said to have been perpetrated by Commissioner-General G.T. Matanga in cahoots with other senior officers. Some of the matters are as listed, but not limited to, the official report I made to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission of which you are in copy and had said correspondence delivered to you.”

Mliswa said he was ready to assist with evidence during the forensic audit.

“My assertions are not unfounded, and I am willing and able to assist with any evidence and leads as and when they may be requested,” the letter further says.

Efforts to get a comment from Chiri were in vain as her phone was unreachable. A text message sent to her was not responded to at the time of going to print.

Mliswa, who has in the past been accused by opponents like business tycoons Billy Rautenbach and Westwood of corrupt practices, last year wrote to Zacc chairperson demanding a probe into what he described as grand corruption by the police boss.

The outspoken legislator recently accused Mnangagwa’s twin sons Collins and Shaun — whose mother is first lady Auxillia — of corrupt practices.

“Sometime in December 2019, CG Matanga, in the company of his chief staff officer, transport and logistics, commissioner Hlabiso, is alleged to have paid a visit to Croco Motors with the intent to purchase eighty (80) operations vehicles without following due tender process and procedure,” Mliswa wrote in a letter dated 22 October.

“In his personal capacity, CG Matanga is then alleged to have instructed Croco Motors to clear the eighty (80) vehicles on customs clearance certificates under the Zimbabwe Republic Police. Matanga is further alleged to have instructed Croco Motors to brand the aforementioned vehicles in the police colours ready for collection.”

Mliswa also accuses the police chief of engaging in “unsavoury and criminal alliance” with officials from the Special Anti-Corruption Unit and controversial businessman Delish Nguwaya.

Nguwaya has denied the claims. Zacc spokesman John Makamure yesterday said he was not aware of the Matanga case.

“I am not aware of any investigations by Zacc on the Commissioner General Matanga,” he said.

Mliswa said he could not comment as he was arrested by police in Karoi over conducting youth development programmes.

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