…Anti-corruption body ruffles political feathers
POLITICAL pressure to remove the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) the independent constitutional body created to combat corruption and crime – Loyce Matanda-Moyo (pictured) is mounting, as ruling party bigwigs feel the heat of intensifying scrutiny over their corrupt activities.
Since coming into office in March last year, Matanda-Moyo (whose name on Zacc social media accounts is spelt Loyce and not Loice), has been slowly, but steadily turning on the heat under senior officials’ chairs.
This is despite widespread criticism of Zacc and her team that they are not yet ready to deal with the big fish in Zanu PF and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s inner circle in and out of government. There
have also been protests that Zacc is being used as an attack dog to settle personal vendettas
and political scores.
However, informed government sources said there was pressure on Mnangagwa from his political allies and other disgruntled voices, as well as aggrieved parties to redeploy Matanda-Moyo, a self-styled corruption-buster, to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) or back to the judiciary bench.
One of the cases which Zacc touched which has ruffled political feathers within Mnangagwa’s inner circle is that of Joram Gumbo, a source said.
Matanda-Moyo, the source continued, had after holding Gumbo’s feet to the fire been pressured from the top to wait with the case or stall it.
“She has come under political pressure on some cases,” the source said. “I know for sure that Zacc and herself were told several times to wait with the Gumbo case, at one point or another. It’s one of those cases which is politically charged.”
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.
The sources said Matanda-Moyo, wife to powerful Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo who was the face of the 2017 military coup which brought Mnangagwa to power, has of late been hinting that she may or may not be there going forward.
She gave hints on her possible departure during a meeting with opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume on Friday last week and at a meeting with Zacc commissioners on Monday, a key source said.
Ngarivhume said he had a meeting with Zacc on Friday last week and Matanda-Moyo hinted at leaving.
“Yes she hinted on that, but I initially thought it was just an off-the-cuff remark with no particular meaning attached it,” he said.
“She suggested that she may not be there in the next cycle (tenure), and now on reflection she sounded sure-footed about it.”
This has raised fears at No. 872 Betterment Close, Mount Pleasant Office Park – Zacc’s headquarters –that she is under pressure from restless political actors and could thus be facing removal and redeployment. When she came in, she said she was ready to withstand political pressure and intimidation. Zacc has other offices in Harare in Strathaven, Showgrounds, Herbert Chitepo
and Highlands, as well as Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare.
“There are various forms of pressures for her redeployment or removal. Mnangagwa is under pressure
from his disgruntled allies to remove her. There is pressure from those who fear they would be targeted, those who are scared – the guilty are always afraid – and those who are aggrieved,” a top official source said.
“She could be redeployed or removed anytime due to political and other pressures. Considerations are that she may be sent back to bench or go to the NPA, and swap places with (Kumbirai) Hodzi. These issues are still being considered, but in the corridors of power they are being spoken about more openly. Even at Zacc, some people already know about this issue.”
Hodzi – Mnangagwa’s ally – was controversially appointed to his post in January last year following interviews in December 2018.
In the public interviews, he came 6th, but no reason was given on why he was chosen ahead of the other five better candidates. He has openly indicated he is a Mnangagwa supporter.
Before becoming prosecutor-general, he had acted in that position since July 2018.
In November 2019, during the interviews for the substantive post of prosecutor-general, Hodzi was grilled by the Judicial Service Commission panel on his failure to effectively prosecute high-profile corruption cases in his first 93 days in office and on pre-emptying of investigations through premature press briefings.
Sources said Matanda-Moyo has been giving several clues in meetings on her departure.
“First, she gave a hint during a meeting with Ngarivhume and second, after that in a meeting with commissioners.
That was last week on Friday and also on Monday this week respectively when she said she may or may not be there going forward since she is still a judge and can go back to the bench,” a source said.
“The signals were clear to everyone that she is indicating she might be going.”
After the meeting with Ngarivhume, Zacc said on its Twitter timeline on Monday it was “deeply indebted” to him for his “kind gesture to visit us and we welcome suggestions
from all our people without any bearing on creed, colour or political, religious affiliation on
how best the fight against corruption can be stepped up to higher levels”.
Matanda-Moyo is a High Court judge. She was president of the Labour Court. At one stage she was also Director of Public Prosecution in the Attorney-General’s office.
She worked in private practice previously. Requests for a meeting with her this week to discuss the issue failed as she said she was busy.
She also did not reply to questions sent to her at her own request.