BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
Zimbabwe’s anti-corruption body has allegedly located unexplained $730 million worth of assets whose owners must face the courts to disclose how they accumulated their fortunes or risk state forfeiture.
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) said the operations involved almost 200 suspected transgressions.
Zacc commissioner Gabriel Chaibva revealed this in Parliament before the parliamentary portfolio committee on justice to discuss the 2022 national budget.
“Of these, the anti-graft body secured six convictions and recovered $52 200 000 (US$600 000), which had been siphoned by bigwigs,” Chaibva said.
“But if the remaining cases fail to prove the source of the fortunes estimated at about $680 million, the assets may be forfeited by the State.”
Zacc has faced a public backlash over its “catch and release” operation style, but it says in a document presented before the committee that it requires substantial resources to fight corruption cases in the country.
The target was to send 180 cases to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), according to the paper, which discloses how underfunding has stifled efforts to combat rampant graft in Zimbabwe.
Chaibva said an allocation of $294 million in the 2022 national budget presented by Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube last month fell far short of the financial resources required to fulfil its mandate.
“Out of a target of 180 cases, 175 have been completed and referred for prosecution,” Zacc said in the 10-page document where IT raises concern over an allocation of $294 million for next year,” he said.
“Out of a target of 20 unexplained wealth case files, 16 were referred to the National Prosecution Authority with a value of $677 135 000 (US$7 296 000) for asset recovery.”
Chaibva said they wanted to enhance their investigation for prosecution, enhance assets recovery investigation and establish a forensic laboratory and criminal bureau.
“We are going to enhance and expand our system compliance checks, which will involve all the public institutions as well as the private sector.
“Corruption awareness and training, research and report dissemination to assist the government in understanding how the corrupt activities are taking place and what measures the government can take in order to combat those.
“We have decided to formulate our own corruption perception index and make sure people understand our role.
“We are saying Zacc is your policeman for corruption.
“This is why you have heard that we have asked for prosecution powers. We want to cook our cake and eat it ourselves.
“Zacc secured six convictions and recovered assets valued at $52 200 000 (US$600 000).”
Zacc has fought to bring sanity to high corruption cases in Zimbabwe since its establishment about five years ago.
However, there have been concerns that many of the cases brought to the courts have not secured convictions, and in the document, the commission plans several programmes to strengthen its systems.