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Zacc boss vows to tighten screws

by Staff reporter
07 Jul 2019 at 21:25hrs | Views
Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) chairperson Loice Matanda-Moyo has vowed to step up the fight against corruption.

Matanda-Moyo (LMM), who was recently appointed to head the anti-graft body, told our senior reporter Blessed Mhlanga (BM) that she was determined to ensure that Zacc became an effective institution.

Below are excerpts from the interview.

BM: What are your major targets as Zacc chairperson?

LMM: In my tenure of office, I am looking at achieving 99%conviction for all matters that are going to be referred for prosecution.

In the past, our investigations lacked detail. It was because our personnel who were manning the investigations department lacked the proper skills.

As you know, white collar crime is getting more sophisticated by the day.

People are now going to cyber spaces to commit offences and it's very difficult to detect such offences without the proper training.

So I am looking at recruiting persons with forensic training and financial intelligence, so that we keep up with the criminals.

Right now, we are lagging behind the criminals, but Zacc should always be ahead of the criminals if we are going to win the war against corruption.

So training is going to be a major issue during my tenure. I would want to equip the investigators with the necessary skills to be able to investigate properly those matters.

But if we only equip the investigators without equipping the prosecutors and the judicial officers, then we will also not win the war.

So I am also going to be partnering with the stakeholders, the Judicial Service Commission, and the National Prosecuting Authority, so that through all the departments we enhance the skills and ensure that we deal with corruption effectively.

BM: How deep-rooted is corruption in the Zimbabwean landscape?

LMM: In Zimbabwe corruption is now a way of life for everyone.

Even from schoolchildren, if you want to try and talk to your children and ask them to have good grades so that they can have a better life, the child will tell you: It's about who you know, it's not what you know.

So corruption is actually deeply rooted and I am very much concerned.

Prevention is going to be another issue.

We have got a prevention department, the public awareness department, that department has already started carrying out awareness campaigns.

BM: Do you think that awareness alone is enough given that you say corruption is deep-rooted and it's now a way of life? Is it not very difficult to change the people's way of life?

LMM: If we catch them young and we do awareness campaigns, it means they will grow up knowing that corruption is not okay.

BM: So you are writing off the older generation?

LMM: We are investigating the older generation. We are going to prosecute the older generation.

We will recover whatever ill-gotten wealth that they received, that will also show and educate the young ones that corruption does not pay.

BM: What is your reaction to allegations that some judicial officers are corrupt?

LMM: I am an experienced judge and you see the public is now very unhappy with the levels of corruption. If an acquittal is made, they will think that there is corruption within the judiciary.

But as judges we base our decisions on evidence.

So there has to be evidence, which is presented before the courts and I am coming from the judiciary.

I have seen some of the evidence, which has been presented before the bench, such evidence does not warrant conviction.

BM: So this is what you want to tighten?

LMM: Yes, that is what I want to tighten. I am going to deal with that aspect and ensure that our dockets are watertight because when you are investigating, firstly you must be aware of the elements of the offence, make sure that you have the evidence pertaining to each and every element of that offence to make sure that the person gets a conviction.

If you miss one of the elements, the person will not be convicted.

BM: What is your take on suggestions that prosecutors should be involved in investigations to ensure that the evidence is solid?

LMM: The docket should be vetted by the prosecutors before it is taken into court, so the prosecutors should take time to study the case.

If they feel that the case has not been properly investigated, they must refer it back for investigations.

Those are the checks and balances that are required if we are going to move forward.

Prosecutors were simply taking matters into court without even interviewing witnesses, for example.

You can actually see that the prosecutor and the witness have met that day that they are in court because you can see the disjointment between the two.

So prosecutors should take their jobs seriously.

BM: How will the recent moves to give Zacc arresting powers assist in the fight against corruption?

LMM: Zacc has been termed a toothless bulldog. Toothless because Zacc could not arrest, so you are very clear that I am dealing with a criminal, the criminal has to be arrested.

You don't have those arresting powers but then again you have alerted the person that you are already investigating them.

So in other ways, without arresting powers that person can jump the borders and you can never see the person again.

But with arresting powers you can arrest the culprit to ensure that they will attend trial.

BM: The previous Zacc commissioners resigned en masse after President Emmerson Mnangagwa said he did not have confidence in their work. What are you doing to ensure that a similar situation does not arise in future?

LMM: The public should just know that Zacc is not going to tolerate corruption. it's just a no no.

Once you are part of Zacc, you cannot be associated with corruption.

As some people say, you can't send a mosquito to cure malaria. So you can't send a corrupt person to deal with corruption.

So I am going to ensure that all Zacc officers have integrity.

All those implicated in corruption will be investigated and if they are found to have committed corruption they will have to leave Zacc, there will be no option.

BM: Will Zacc take any action against people implicated in cases of corruption in Auditor General Mildred Chiri's latest report?

LMM: We are going through the audit reports. We are going through them.

There are issues, which have been raised. Some of them for example pertain to Zesa where (a company was) paid some millions of dollars for transformers some nine years ago.

Such transformers have not been delivered. So we are trying to find out what happened on that money.

Did somebody follow up on that money and squander it or the company is still holding on to that money?

So we are still investigating it and once investigations are through, you will see heads rolling.

BM: As the Zacc chairperson do you have an latitude to stop the appointment of people with questionable characters into the commission?

LMM: Yes I can go to the appointing authority and raise those concerns.

I want to believe that, since there is now political will to fight corruption, I will be heard and those members will be removed.

BM: Some have experienced concerns about your links to the executive since you are married to Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo? Will that not affect the way you discharge your duties?

LMM: Not at all. I am not married to the executive. I am married to SB Moyo. I am not mandated by SB to head Zacc and neither is Zacc mandated to marry SB. So those are two different functions and I can handle those functions professionally.

BM: Are you able to assure the nation you will not just be talk but execute your duties with integrity that Zimbabweans expect?

LMM: I will assure the nation that I will conduct my duties professionally with integrity and ethically.

I am a judge in the first place and I am here by secondment and whatever I do will have repercussions on my job.

I may not be able to go back to the bench, so I am assuring the nation that I will not be partial in handling these matters.

Every matter will be dealt with and my history speaks for itself.

I have been the director of public prosecution and you can check that history.

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