GOVERNMENT will intensify the forfeiture of assets and recovery of the proceeds of corruption in 2021 as it moves to combat graft, which is bleeding the country US$1 billion annually, a Cabinet minister has said.
An asset forfeiture strategy anchored on the “Unexplained Wealth Orders” is on the cards as government intensifies its fight on graft, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said.
Presenting his 2021 National Budget, Ncube said the government will capacitate the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Zimbabwe Republic Police (Minerals, Flora and Fauna Unit), the Auditor-General’s office and the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe to effectively deal with endemic graft in both the private and public sectors.
Zimbabwe loses US$1 billion to graft annually through illicit financial flows and corruption in high places. Despite pledging zero tolerance to corruption, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has failed to effectively prosecute high-profile corruption cases, with implicated officials still walking free.
Ncube allocated a paltry ZW$3.6 billion to capacitate Zacc, the police and other institutions to fight corruption.
“The New Dispensation is committed to deal with corruption challenges and enforcement of the rule of law to improve the business climate and support private sector-led inclusive growth,” Ncube said during his budget statement.
“Corruption is a structural obstacle to development progress as it adversely impacts the availability, quality and accessibility of goods and services for the most vulnerable. It also undermines the functioning and legitimacy of institutions, processes and the rule of law, in the end seriously impacting the achievement of SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).”
The fight against corruption for the next five years will be guided by the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (Nacs) from 2020-24, whose objectives are to enhance the structures for deterrence, detection, adherence, and enforcement through improved compliance with anti-corruption and integrity management obligations and mechanisms across sectors.
The strategy is also meant to improve transparency and accountability in government and the private sector. It also ensures the protection of whistle-blowers and victims of corruption. This will encourage participation in anti-corruption efforts by members of the public.
“The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has also launched an anti-corruption whistle-blowing platform to improve corruption detection. To make the tool more effective, in 2021, government will expedite the enacting of the appropriate legislation to protect whistle-blowers in line with international best practices,” Ncube said.
Zacc has often been accused of failing to prosecute high-profile cases, with critics saying the anti-corruption body is being used to settle personal scores.
Mnangagwa made fighting corruption one of his major assignments when he took over from Mugabe, but critics say the anti-graft crusade is targeted at his political foes while the President’s inner circle enjoyed a free rein to loot.
One of the controversial cases handled by Zacc involved former Transport minister Jorum Gumbo, who was arrested late last year for alleged criminal abuse of office after he allegedly authorised renovations of a relative’s house to the tune of US$1 million before the property was turned into the headquarters of Zimbabwe Airways.
Another case involves former Health Minister Obadiah Moyo, who was arrested and later released on bail for his alleged involvement in the US$60 million Covid-19 procurement scandal.
Moyo’s case has repeatedly been postponed. There are also several top Zanu PF officials and ruling party financiers who have been implicated in corruption scandals, but have never been charged by Zacc.