By Anna Chibamu
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has distanced himself from allegations doing rounds that he influences the granting of bail to his cronies in government and Zanu PF arrested on corruption charges.
The President has been on an anti-corruption drive and has vowed to rid-off high level corrupt acts in government including arresting senior government or ruling party officials. However, critics say he is not doing enough to curb the vice and was interfering with the courts to release his arrested cronies.
He said he was equally angry that he wished he not was a President but a ‘mere’ judge so that he could be firm and deny the suspected big wigs bail.
Mnangagwa made the remarks while speaking at an anti-corruption symposium in Harare last Friday.
He has been accused in some quarters of influencing the release from prison of a number of high profile people arrested on corruption charges.
He instead blamed what is now commonly known as ‘Catch and Release’ on prosecutors who failed to build strong cases against the accused.
“I saw that small video (on Catch and Release). It is very interesting. What is depicted in the video is true and I am very angry with that but what do I do?” he asked the delegates attending the event.
“You send a person to court and bail is granted to someone or the courts postpone the matter until people forget about the matter.
“I do not know how to deal with such an issue but the public cries will reach the ears of the judges that they are not up to scratch.
“Also with prosecution, there are cases where I have observed some loopholes, where prosecutors fail to deliver until the case is lost, even if a judge is sympathetic with a case, he or she cannot tell a prosecutor what to say or do,” said Mnangagwa.
The president also urged judiciary officers to work hard and be honest at all times.
“Honest hard work must be shown by our workers. Most cases are dying a natural death because of lack of evidence. You put facts before the courts and if a judge makes a determination that is it.”
According to Mnangagwa, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) was performing well in line with its constitutional mandate.
“Once it is done with investigations and there is a reasonable case, ZACC either arrests or refers the matter to the Prosecutor General but there is no authority to say to a magistrate this one is really guilty, because facts before the case are needed.”
Several senior government officials have been arrested this year and most of them are now out on bail.
One curious ‘arrest’ was that of former Transport Minister Joram Gumbo who was picked up by ZACC facing corruption charges but was released the same day with no charges laid against him. Mnangagwa was accused of having influenced ZACC to release him.