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Mnangagwa's to seize assets of corrupt convicts

by Staff reporter
02 Nov 2018 at 15:07hrs | Views
Government will through the Asset Forfeiture Unit housed under the National Prosecution Authority (NPA), seize all assets accumulated through corruption proceeds in the event of a conviction as the fight to stem out corruption in both the public and private sectors gathers pace. It is believed that there are huge amounts of corrupt wealth and tainted cash laundering through Zimbabwe's banks. Much of it ends up in real estate and in other assets such as luxury cars.

The seizure of assets, analysts told Business Times this week, is in line with President Emmerson Mnangagwa's vow, since assuming office a year ago, to fight corruption in the country.

Mnangagwa has since set up a Special Anti-Corruption Task Force in his office to assist in the speedy prosecution of people suspected of involvement in corruption. A well-placed source who requested anonymity told Business Times on Wednesday that efforts were underway to make sure government recovered stolen or embezzled money through the seizure of assets mainly accumulated through corruption proceeds. This will be done through the revival and equipping of the Assets Forfeiture Unit.

"Of late, there have been some convictions but nothing was done with regards to government recovering the stolen funds," the source said.

"However, there are efforts underway aimed at fully equipping and reviving the Assets Forfeiture Unit, which is housed under the NPA. This move will make sure that the government recovers its funds by seizing the assets of people convicted of corruption and selling them in some instances," the source added.

In his 2019 pre-Budget Strategy Paper, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube said the fight against entrenched indiscipline and corruption would be dealt with through necessary disincentives and penalties.

"This will include the review of the penalty regime so that persons guilty of corruption are subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties, including empowering the courts, on the application of the Prosecutor General, to grant Civil Forfeiture Orders in respect of property from proceeds of corruption," Ncube said.

The Special Anti-Corruption Unit in the Office of the President and Cabinet is meant to improve efficiency in the fight against all forms of graft and to strengthen the effectiveness of national mechanisms for the prevention of corruption.

The unit's terms of reference include collaborating with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police and other such institutions in the fight against corruption.

But according to a source at the NPA, efforts by the Special Corruption Unit have been hampered by the judicial system which has, in some instances, proven to be ineffective in handling corruption cases.

"The other underlying factor has been the lack of capacity to prosecute cases of a commercial nature hence the urgent need to make the Commercial Crimes Court come into motion," the source said.

Corruption has been blamed for stalling economic development and a cost on business as high-level bureaucrats demand kickbacks before approving projects.

A 2016 report by Transparency International showed that Zimbabwe was losing at least US$1 billion annually due to corruption.

But the wheels of correction have been moving slowly in stemming the canker, with analysts saying the anti-corruption dragnet has so far targeted only small fish and political rivals.

Source - businesstimes

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