Zvamaida Murwira and Victor Maphosa, Harare Bureau
ZIMBABWE Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo says they have recovered more than $100 million worth of properties from looters as they intensify anti-graft efforts aimed at combating the scourge.
She said they had secured an increased number of criminal convictions of late and were working with different stakeholders such as academics to come up with legal structures that enhance their fight against corruption.
Justice Matanda-Moyo said this yesterday in an interview on the sidelines of a signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding between Zacc and other stakeholders such as the National Prosecuting Authority, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Financial Intelligence Unit, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Immigration Department, University of Zimbabwe among others in Harare.
She said they were only dealing with the forfeiture of properties and money while the NPA was going to court for confirmation.
“The goods we are holding onto run into hundreds of millions of dollars and right now we are in the process of preparing papers for the recovery of properties in the leafy suburbs. In Borrowdale we are looking at over 10 properties of high value, and we have got so many vehicles now which we have targeted, others are already in our possession,” said Justice Matanda-Moyo.
She said there had been a surge in the number of convictions but more needed to be done to reform legal instruments.
“In the past, the investigations have not been thorough but if you have followed events recently there are now convictions. Investigations have actually improved. Our laws are not user friendly, so we want these academics to help in the formulation of new laws. We want to bring in academics, we want those universities to help us in formulation of laws,” Justice Matanda-Moyo said.
“Definitely there is a need for legal reforms, even the rules of the courts must change. As you can see right now, we have got anti-corruption courts but only at magistrate level, once you go to the superior courts, corruption matters are not given priority. We also need that to change, we need corruption matters to be handled faster.
“They must be dealt with efficiently and effectively so that we can also be able to recover the loot. If we take too long dealing with corruption matters, then we will not be able to recover anything. By the time we are through with a criminal matter the person would have moved all the funds and we will not be able to recover anything. So we really need those laws to be changed so that it is easier to deal with corruption.”
Meanwhile, ZACC yesterday forged alliances with several stakeholders through signing MOUs aimed at strengthening co-ordination in the fight against the corruption.
The anti-graft body signed MOUs with the NPA, Auditor General, University of Zimbabwe, RBZ’s Financial Intelligence Unit, Immigration Department, Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and Ezekiel Guti University.
In her keynote address, ZACC chairperson Justice Matanda-Moyo said the agreement would ensure that they joined forces to fight corruption.
“The signing of these memorandum of understanding has come at an opportune time when Zimbabwe is also undergoing a governance assessment by the International Monetary Fund which is covering the anti-corruption framework. The assessment will cover among others, plans for developing a national anti-corruption strategy and engagement of non-state actors and the institutional co-ordination in investigation and prosecution of corruption cases,” she said.
“These MOUs we are signing today will ensure that our different roles are clearly defined and that we join forces for a common good, which is to achieve a corrupt free Zimbabwe, this will ensure that we present a unified front which is effectively co-ordinated,” she said.
RBZ director general of the Financial Intelligence Unit Mr Mirirai Chiremba said a national risk assessment of money laundering they carried out in 2014 indicated more than $1,8 billion was leaving the country through illicit means.
He said of the $1,8 billion, smuggling accounted for $900 million, while corruption and tax evasion were responsible for $500 million apiece.
“We recognised the fact that although corruption accounts for around $500 million it cuts across these other two because how do you smuggle goods without paying a bribe, how do you smuggle gold out of the country without paying a bribe, how do you evade tax without paying a bribe. Everything now sits on corruption,” said Mr Chiremba.
“Globally, corruption is the second most worrisome offence after tax evasion so we cannot take it lightly. There should be as many MOUs as possible, there should be intra and inter MOUs for us to be able to fight corruption.”
Auditor General Mrs Mildred Chiri commended the development and pledged her office’s full support for ZACC.
“My office is elated by this development as it comes at a time when the country is on a journey to build a middle class economy by 2030, a milestone we can only achieve in a crime free Zimbabwe. The work of ZACC relates to mine in more ways than one, my audit reports form a critical component of this co-operation as well as a basis for ZACC and other stakeholders to act on.
“The eradication of corruption will surely better the lives of citizens, it is against this background that the signing of this MOU is fulfilling. A corrupt free Zimbabwe is achievable and together we will achieve more.”
ZRP Deputy Commissioner General Stephen Mutamba commended the move and said the event should not just be a formality but must bear fruits.
“The MOUs should not just remain a talk-show, the ZRP re-assures delegates that we will go out of our way to ensure its fruition for the benefit of the citizenry of Zimbabwe where we draw our mandate from. The MOU with ZACC, which we are signing today, calls for both organisations to dedicate and refocus our collective efforts in fighting corruption.”