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ZACC avoids graft-accused Mnangagwa crony

by newzimbabwe
27 Sep 2019 at 07:14hrs | Views
THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has turned a blind eye on alleged corruption involving Sakunda Holdings, a company run by Kuda Tagwirei, President Emmerson Mnangagwa's reported close ally.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) led by Tendai Biti recently alleged that an estimated US$3 billion was abused under government's command agriculture scheme that was managed by Sakunda.

The fuel company procured and also distributed agricultural inputs under the scheme, a practice that the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) condemned as conflict of interest.

According to the OAG, Sakunda received US$411 million for maize, soya and wheat production in 2018.

But ZACC said it would not investigate Sakunda or individuals involved in the alleged abuse of scheme funds because it had not received a complaint.

John Makamure, the ZACC spokesperson, told NewZimbabwe.com that the commission was waiting for complainants to come forward or, alternatively, PAC to make recommendations for the command agriculture project to be investigated.

"We have not received any reports as yet. We always call upon citizens to report any case of corruption so that we have a basis for investigation and that has to be understood.

"We cannot jump onto something that the PAC is inquiring into. If the PAC recommends that we investigate or that there is need for further investigations, then we will proceed to investigate," said Makamure.

The Anti-Corruption Commission Act (Chapter 9:22), however, does not limit ZACC's functions to passively receiving complaints.

The Act provides that the commission can monitor and examine practices, systems and procurement procedures of public and private enterprises.

The same law also stipulates that ZACC must "investigate any conduct of any person whom the Commission has reason to believe is connected with activities involving corruption".

The OAG noted in a recent report that its director it was barred from accessing the command agriculture contract between Sakunda and the government. This is despite the fact that the scheme is closely monitored and supervised by the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC).

In addition, OAG noted that there were no records of inputs procurement and sale as well as the number and names of beneficiaries.

Media reports that have been coming out of late also allege that a group of people from Sakunda and other input supplying entities connived to inflate the prices of seed, fertilizer, fuel coupons and other agricultural commodities, pocketing US$18 million in 2018 alone.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has just condemned the command agriculture programme.

In a statement, the IMF called on the government to discontinue the project as it was draining the fiscus.

But the Zimbabwean government has brushed the criticism against Sakunda and the agricultural project aside.

Last month, it assured US$2.8 billion for the continuation of command agriculture, which critics say has hardly produced enough to feed the nation in the past three seasons.

There is a strong suspicion that Sakunda used part of the money to trade on the money black market.

Last week, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) reportedly froze Sakunda's and allied bank accounts as foreign currency rates shot through the roof. The rates relatively stabilised after the freeze, which also affected Croco Motors and Spartan Investments, which is owned by Mnangagwa's nephew and close ally.

According to unconfirmed reports, the accounts were, however, quickly unfrozen.

Government has not shown signs that it would plug the loopholes in the command agriculture scheme, raising fears that its continued implementation will come with more leakages and a greater burden on taxpayers who will foot the servicing of the debt.

Academic and political analyst, Ibbo Mandaza said ZACC was keeping off the command agriculture scheme because it was closely linked to Mnangagwa.

"In a predatory state like Zimbabwe is, it is unlikely that the state, particularly its leadership, which is complicit in corruption implicitly and explicitly can deal with such corruption, let alone weed it out. It is impossible," said Mandaza.

Source - newzimbabwe

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