Watchdog says Mnangagwa administration lacks political will to fight corruption

March 25, 2021

An anti-graft body has flagged President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration over alleged weak policies and lack of commitment to fight corruption.

Brenna Matendere

The Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) says the Mnangagwa administration has no political will to fight corruption despite the existence of relevant laws and policies.

The Kwekwe-based watchdog cited the case of former Mines minister, Obert Mpofu, who in 2019 defied a parliamentary order to appear before a committee to testify on the leakage of diamonds worth numerous billions.

The late Robert Mugabe in 2016 admitted in a birthday interview with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) that diamond miners in the Marange area had produced gems worth an estimated US$15 billion but had only accounted for only US$2 billion, leaving an unexplained US$13 billion loss.

A 2013 Mines portfolio committee report fingered Mpofu, who is now heading the ruling Zanu PF administration department, in several violations of standard corporate governance protocols in the administration of the diamonds.

He was, among other things, accused of gross interference in the licencing of miners and the composition of their respective boards.

Mpofu was at that time reported to have gone on an asset-shopping spree that included real estate and a bank, which went down after he was moved to the Transport ministry.

The committee chair, Edward Chindori-Chininga, subsequently died in a mysterious car crash.

Mpofu’s defiance of the parliamentary portfolio committee led by Temba Mliswa went uncensored, even though he could have been charged with contempt of parliament, at least.

He was retained as a government minister even though he was later stood down and shifted to the powerful Zanu PF secretariat in the post-Mugabe establishment.

The ruling party youth wing at one time also accused Mpofu of being among the leading corrupt heavyweights in the Zanu PF leadership , but those that authored the expose were punished.

Failure to act on Mpofu by the Mnangagwa administration encouraged impunity, ACT-SA pointed out in a recent report.

“This means that Zimbabwe still harbours individuals who are above the law, giving credence to accusations of impunity against corruption, despite the fact that Zimbabwe signed and ratified the UNCAC (United Nations Coalition against Corruption), the SADC Protocol against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption that prohibits impunity,” said Obert Chinhamo, the ACT-SA director.

The anti-graft body bemoaned the existence of cartels in key economic sectors of Zimbabwe and said this has pushed prices of commodities up.

“The existence of cartels in the fuel sector and monopolies in the pharmaceutical industry serve to drive up the costs of basic goods, which adversely affect the general population.

“The fact that Sakunda and Green fuel Pvt Limited enjoy a monopoly in the fuel sector is indicative of the need for more robust policy and legislation on private sector corruption regarding monopolies in the different sectors,” said Chinhamo.

Sakunda is owned by a Mnangagwa advisor and close ally, Kuda Tagwirei, who is seen as leading a cartel that is creating monopolies in the gold, banking, agriculture, transport and fuel sectors.

Auditor General Mildred Chiri has in the past produced damning reports on public sector corruption but, said ACT-SA, her recommendations have largely been ignored, a trend that tends to undermine the integrity of public institutions.

The Auditor General’s Office (OAG) has repeatedly identified gross corruption and mismanagement in state-owned enterprises and public institutions, among them the  Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC).

 ACT-SA recommended that there be a tougher stance by the Mnangagwa administration in fighting corruption.

On 11 July 2020, Zimbabwe launched the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan for 2020-2024, but Chinhamo said the process was flawed.

“The development process lacked inclusivity, since several CSOs such as the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) were not consulted. ZACC may have its own reasons why it excluded some CSOs but the lack of buy-in from relevant CSOs may jeopardise its implementation. This is one area that needs improvement considering that it is everyone’s responsibility to fight corruption,” he said. 

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