THE net is closing in on ZANU-PF officials suspected of corruption with party insiders saying those caught on the wrong side of the law would, apart from being prosecuted, lose both party and government positions, the Financial Gazette can report. This comes as State media reports suggest that a crack team of detectives from the Criminal Investigations Department is winding up investigations into a litany of allegations levelled against former vice president Joice Mujuru in the run-up to ZANU-PF’s action-packed congress held in December.
According to the reports, Mujuru could soon be questioned on a number of issues. Mujuru, who made history when she became Zimbabwe’s first woman vice president in 2004, is being accused of extorting shareholding in companies, demanding 10 percent bribes, illicit dealings in diamonds and gold, attempting to defeat the course of justice, extorting investors, undermining the authority of President Robert Mugabe and seeking to depose the veteran ZANU-PF leader through unconstitutional means.
It is these allegations that led to her dramatic ouster as President Mugabe’s second in command – condemning her to a mere card carrying member. ZANU-PF insiders said the corruption dragnet would soon be extended far and wide to flush out bad apples within the party’s rank and file. Indications are, however, that a section of the party would want to target those accused of hobnobbing with Mujuru. That way, they hope to kill off any likelihood of Mujuru and her allies bouncing back into the succession equation.
A few of Mujuru allies have since been chucked out of the party. These include former ZANU-PF national spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo and former war veterans’ leader, Jabulani Sibanda. Several senior government officials have also been fired from government apart from losing their party positions. Suspicions of the protracted witch-hunt have been met with the gnashing and grinding of teeth in ZANU-PF.
While some officials said the move was a fulfillment of some of the resolutions passed at its congress held from December 2-7 last year and would be carried out routinely, others said this was a new phenomenon whose main agenda was to rebuild ZANU-PF’s bartered image. Indications are that the crackdown might gain traction once President Mugabe returns from the Far East where he is spending his annual leave.
The swoop, said the sources, was also targeting party officials based at the national headquarters in Harare, (names supplied) some of whom are already under investigation on for corruption. Despite adopting zero-tolerance on corruption, ZANU-PF has since independence in 1980 been accused of paying lip service to the vice. Currently, Zimbabwe is ranked among the world’s most corrupt states.
A few weeks ago, top ZANU-PF officials were arrested for defrauding more than 15 000 farmers of huge sums of money in a botched farming inputs scheme. Director of youths affairs, Tapiwa Zengeya and Patience Chipere and their alleged accomplices have appeared at Harare magistrates’ court facing corruption charges.
They were arrested for allegedly duping the farmers thought their company – Lasch Investments – which was contracted to the farmers, most of them ZANU-PF members and supporters, by allegedly diverting funds meant for the purchase of farm inputs to personal use. The money, contributions by the farmers, was reportedly used to buy luxury vehicles among other personal items for the company’s bosses and no inputs were bought for the farmers.
Contacted for comment, national police spokesperson, Charity Charamba, denied police involvement in the investigation and demanded that questions be forwarded to her via email. She had not responded to the email by the time of going to print. But police commissioner general, Augustine Chihuri, quoting President Mugabe’s opening address at the ZANU-PF congress in December, said police were ready to deal with anyone involved in corruption.
“Let me assure the nation that the Zimbabwe Republic Police shall leave no stone unturned in bringing all perpetrators of corruption to book. This stance is in line with the organisation’s constitutional mandate and, more importantly, with His Excellency the President of Zimbabwe’s (Robert Mugabe) sentiments during the official opening of the 6th ZANU-PF national people’s congress,” Chihuri was quoted by local newspapers as having said while addressing a recent police pass out parade in Harare.
President Mugabe has vowed to rid the party of all “rotten elements” — a not-so-subtle reference to Mujuru and her allies who he accuses of plotting to oust and assassinate him. Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also the acting president, has since added his voice to the growing calls for the arrest of corrupt party officials. Speaking during the re-commissioning of A1 settlement permits in Chirumhanzu last month, Mnangagwa gave a stern warming to corrupt officials saying the party had entered into a new era whereby corruption would not be tolerated.
“We don’t have mercy with the corrupt. There are some who we will not forgive but if you have been involved in corruption, stop it now because this is a new era,” he said.
ZANU-PF spokesman, Simon Khaya Moyo, could not be reached for comment as his two mobile numbers were not reachable. Party national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, who has been doing much of the talking on behalf of the party as Khaya Moyo remains mum, declined to comment and referred questions back to the spokesman. Ignatius Chombo, who is head of the secretariat in his capacity as secretary for administration, was not picking up calls with sources close to him saying he was on leave.