Daniel Nemukuyu Investigations and Special Reports Editor
ZIMBABWE’S anti-corruption drive this year scored major successes, as a number of prominent figures were arrested and taken to court.
The year 2019 was historic as the once “toothless” Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) was bestowed with arresting powers.
In July, President Mnangagwa appointed a new commission, headed by renowned judicial officer Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo, to effectively and efficiently investigate all corruption cases.
Being a new broom, ZACC truly swept clean.
Ten days after the swearing-in ceremony, the newly constituted commission hit the ground running, arresting ex-Minister for Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Prisca Mupfumira on corruption allegations involving US$95 million.
Mupfumira became ZACC’s first big catch on July 25.
She is now out on bail.
In the same year, ZACC swooped on former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko and arrested him for criminal abuse of office.
Mphoko is alleged to have unlawfully instructed officers at Avondale Police Station to release from custody former Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) acting chief executive officer Moses Juma and non-executive board member Davison Norupiri.
The two were being charged with criminal abuse of office.
Mphoko appeared in court where he was granted $1 000 bail.
Another arrest that confirmed ZACC’s seriousness in the fight against corruption was that of Marry Mubaiwa, the estranged wife of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, for externalising US$1 033 000.
She was also charged with money laundering involving US$990 000 and fraud.
Using the tainted money, Mubaiwa is said to have bought two houses and furniture in South Africa, and three top-of-the-range vehicles.
Joram Gumbo, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs (Monitoring and Implementation of Government Programmes), was also arrested for criminal abuse of office on November 4 this year.
Gumbo is being accused of showing favour to his relative, the politician Mavis Gumbo, by awarding her a contract to rent out her house to Zimbabwe Airways.
As part of the deal, it is alleged Gumbo directed the release of US$1 million for the refurbishment of Ms Gumbo’s property and customising it into the airline’s headquarters.
Gumbo stands accused of corruptly reinstating CMED chief executive Mr Davison Mhaka despite a disciplinary tribunal finding him guilty of misconduct after he authorised payment of US$2,7 million to a fuel company for the supply of fuel that was never delivered.
Despite the tribunal finding Mr Mhaka guilty and his subsequent dismissal by the CMED board, Gumbo intervened and directed his reinstatement without explanation.
Gumbo is yet to appear in court on the charges.
Former principal director of State Residences in the Office of the President and Cabinet Douglas Tapfuma was arrested for criminal abuse of office after he allegedly facilitated the importation of several vehicles duty-free.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) this year complemented efforts by ZACC to curb the scourge by establishing specialised commercial courts in most provinces.
Chief Justice Luke Malaba officially opened the special courts in Harare and Bulawayo in 2018. This year, more courts were opened in Mutare, Masvingo, Gweru, Bindura and Marondera.
Seven provinces now have special anti-graft courts and the JSC is expected to open more courts in Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North and Mashonaland West.
JSC is now working on establishing the special anti-graft court at High Court level.
Two courtrooms are being refurbished at the High Court in Harare and Bulawayo to accommodate the Anti-Corruption Court.
Three judges were appointed to the Anti-Corruption Court in Harare, while two were appointed in the Bulawayo court.
JSC’s target is to officially open the High Court Special Anti-Corruption Division by early 2020.
ZACC this year managed to recover at least US$10 million, being ill-gotten wealth.
The money was recovered mainly from tax evaders and individuals who had acquired illicit wealth.
ZACC said the figure could be more if Parliament expeditiously passed the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Amendment Bill (2019), which is before the august House.
The Bill empowers corruption-fighting State agents like the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), ZACC and the police to demand explanations from people who flaunt wealth above their known legitimate means.
ZACC went a gear up, seeking to recover looted wealth stashed in neighbouring countries.
ZACC and the Anti-Corruption Commission of Zambia in early October signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to fight cross-border economic crimes.
On December 12, ZACC and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC) of Botswana signed a MoU that will see the two organisations cooperating in investigating cases and recovering looted assets across the two counttries’ borders.
The MoU is set to enhance sharing of best practices in the fight against corruption through mutual technical assistance in anti-corruption investigations, asset recovery, research, training and joint operations.
ZACC, towards the end of the year, exhibited its seriousness in asset recovery after vowing to hunt the corrupt beyond the grave.
The commission showed interest in seizing the estate of the late Twalumba Holdings director Dr Nkululeko Sibanda.
ZACC wrote to the Master of Court seeking to freeze assets coomprising the estate of the late Dr Sibanda on the basis that they could be proceeds of crime.
Before he died, Dr Sibanda was jointly charged with ex-Zinara chief executive Frank Chitukutuku for fraud involving US$4,7 million.
Twalumba Properties, which is implicated in the case, owns the bulk of land and buildings in the estate of Dr Sibanda.
Chitukutuku’s properties, valued at US$20 million, have since been frozen by the High Court as part of ZACC’s investigation into the fraud.
When he passed on at 41, Dr Sibanda left behind 39 stands of between 3 600 and 8 116 square metres with two double storey buildings and six single-storey houses.
ZACC reckons at least part of that real estate fortune might have been bought with thecproceeds of crime.
Dr Sibanda also owned commercial immovable properties and over 20 undeveloped six-hectare agro-residential plots registered in the names of Twalumba Properties and Attachards Enterprises.
Most of the properties are registered under Twalumba Properties, a company that is implicated in the fraud case that was being investigated by ZACC.