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MPs blast Zacc for low convictions

by Staff reporter
15 Nov 2023 at 18:43hrs | Views
CITIZENS' Coalition for Change (CCC) parliamentarians have condemned the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) over the low number of convictions referred to the police despite the rampant illicit financial flows in the country.

Zacc, established by the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act, 2013 (sections 254 and 255) is mandated with combatting corruption, theft, misappropriation, abuse of power and other improprieties in both the public and private sectors.

According to its 2022 annual report, Zacc received 684 criminal cases, with over 70% being accounted for by Harare.

Matabeleland South only had one case, accounting for 0.20%. Of the cases, only 147 cases were referred to the police, a situation worsened by the National Prosecution Authority's (NPA) low crime clearance rate.

According to its 2022 annual report, the NPA had a clearance rate of 38.38% on economic crimes, which has received disapproval from MPs, amid indications that Zimbabwe is wallowing in a corruption-induced crisis.    

This week in Parliament, Mt Pleasant MP Fadzai Mahere flagged Zacc's 2022 report over low cases referred to the police, amid indications that the country is losing billions of dollars in revenue.

"On some of the data that comes out in that report, you will see that only 147 cases were referred to the police.  That is done in a country that is losing US$2.8, almost US$3 billion. What is Zacc doing? Why are they being funded if only 140 cases are referred to the police?" she asked.

"If you remember yesterday, NPA Report, the prosecutor is saying all these economic crimes that come before them, they have only completed 38%, a low clearance rate together with the inactivity on the part of Zacc is what is costing corruption. So, we see that the report by Zacc proves the inefficiency in their failure to attend to their constitutional mandate yet it does not stop there.

"If you look at the majority of, I believe it is part five where they are dealing with combating corruption, you can see that Zacc sits back and expects corruption to be reported to it, they are waiting for complaints to come to them. However, section 255 of the constitution says that they are meant to be proactive and go and investigate but they completely failed."

Mahere said Zacc's report has failed to capture crucial issues on illicit financial flows that have seen the country lose revenue through illicit financial flows.

For instance, civil society has called for a special commission of inquiry to investigate corruption evidence unearthed by news channel Al Jazeera.

This comes after it emerged that Zimbabwe has been losing close to 200 kilogrammes of gold every month.

While Al Jazeera's four-episode explosive documentary has shown that the country is losing gold through illicit flows spearheaded by people close to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, nobody has been jailed.

Former Finance minister Tendai Biti says Zimbabwe could be losing up to US$4 billion a year through illicit financial flows — estimated at US$1bn for gold smuggling, US$1bn for tobacco smuggling and possibly US$2bn through lithium leakages.

"What we see is that the sentiment exhibited by the public that Zacc is actually captured right at the top and we are going to see that and when the 2023 report comes out, we expect Zacc to be attending to particular cases," Mahere said.

"We expect the 2023 report to cover the gold mafia scandal. They cannot shy away from important corruption cases that were exposed and reported by others because they are politically captured. So, we expect Zacc to do more. This report simply does not meet the constitutional standard."

Seke MP Willard Madzimbamuto flagged the report for failing to account for assets recovered from arrests.

"The report under item 3.2 speaks of assets recovery. It then goes further to talk about civil forfeitures which is a very interesting and new phenomenon, specifically in our jurisdiction and territory. The drive is not about arrests," Madzimbamuto said.

"It is a 72% conviction rate against what output. So, as a way of giving an illustration — you can convict 100 people and send them to prison at the taxpayers' expense, but these individuals would have been convicted for corruption and amassed wealth at the expense of the country.

"The fundamental question therefore becomes, what is it that the country has recovered from these convictions? So, you have a 72% conviction. We measure it against that which would have been recovered so that at least we can track that there is significant progress."

However, Zanu-PF MPs took turns to heap praise on Zacc, saying it has done a good job in investigating crimes.

"Also as mandated by the constitution of Zimbabwe, section 254 and 255 on their objectives which include to promote honest financial discipline and transparency, we see that in this report, there is quite a lot of detail on it," said Energy Mutodi.

"I will start on the 72% conviction to NPA, 72% of cases were convicted. That shows that much work was done particularly in as far as investigation is concerned because at times you see that a lot of other dockets, in some instances, they are then thrown out especially at the NPA level. So that is quite commendable in terms of its mandate to investigate such cases."

Zimbabwe's corruption fight has been hollow, with the country being a non-mover on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI), on a 23/100 score, falling behind the regional average of 32/100, while ranking 157 out of 180 of the most corrupt countries in the world.

The index measures perceptions of public sector corruption levels in 180 countries around the world. More than two-thirds of the countries scored below 50, including Zimbabwe, while 26 others fell to their lowest scores yet.

Zimbabwe also has the lowest score in the Sadc region, trailing all its neighbours, with Seychelles scoring 70/100, the highest score in the sub-Saharan region, followed by neighbours Botswana with 60/100. The country also falls below South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi, among others, scoring 43/100, 26/100, 33/100 and 34/100 respectively.

Source - newshawks
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