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Village Rhapsody: Zacc’s failure is a betrayal of Zimbabweans’ trust

The case of former Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu is another damning illustration of Zacc's impotence.

For years, Zimbabweans have placed their faith in the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) hoping it would be the bulwark against the endemic graft that has crippled the country's economy and institutions.

Tragically, that faith has been repeatedly betrayed, as Zacc has demonstrated an alarming inability or unwillingness to hold even the most high-profile perpetrators to account.

The "Wicknell Chivayo saga" stands out as a particularly egregious example of Zacc's failings. In 2013, the flamboyant businessman was awarded a US$183 million contract by the Zimbabwe Power Company to construct the Gwanda solar project.

However, years later, little progress has been made on the project, and it became clear that Chivayo had pocketed the funds without fulfilling his end of the bargain.

The evidence of corruption and misspending was overwhelming.

Chivayo had been paid US$5 million upfront, despite failing to meet key contractual milestones.

He also had a history of securing government contracts without the necessary expertise or equipment.

Yet despite these glaring red flags, Zacc has repeatedly failed to bring any charges against him.

Chivayo has not only evaded justice, but has even managed to expand his business empire, securing new lucrative deals with the government.

This sends a clear message that the well-connected can operate with impunity in Zimbabwe, safe in the knowledge that Zacc will not dare to hold them accountable.

Recently a daily paper published a story on the scandalous businessman Chivayo citing that the investigations by Zacc on him had hit a stumbling block.

What a coincidence, how can two key sources on the case be out of the country? Could they have also been given chunks of money to leave the country?

Headlines after an audio leak where Chivayo was allegedly confirming that they got a windfall from a murky Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) US$40 million tender to supply material for the 2023 general elections.

It also emerged that the figure was highly inflated with Zec being charged over US$1 million for an HP server, which costs just over US$4 000.

The failure, by ZACC, to prioritise her investigation raises concerns about the credibility of the inquiry itself.

Zacc's failings extend beyond these headline-grabbing cases.

Time and again, the anti-corruption commission has proven itself incapable or unwilling to tackle corruption at all levels of government and business.

Perpetrators with political connections routinely evade justice, while ordinary Zimbabweans continue to suffer the consequences of unbridled graft.

The case of former Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu is another damning illustration of Zacc's impotence.

Mpofu has been dogged by allegations of corruption and abuse of office for years, with evidence suggesting he amassed a vast personal fortune through shady dealings.

Yet despite repeated calls for Zacc to investigate him, the former minister has remained untouched.

Mpofu's continued freedom and influence is a stinging rebuke to the idea that no one is above the law in Zimbabwe.

It is a clear demonstration that Zacc is either unable or unwilling to hold the politically connected to account.

The people of Zimbabwe deserve an anti-corruption body that is truly independent, resourced, and empowered to hold everyone accountable, regardless of their status or affiliations. Anything less is a betrayal of the public trust.

Zacc's failures have had far-reaching consequences.

By allowing corruption to flourish with impunity, the anti-corruption commission has undermined the rule of law, eroded public faith in institutions, and stifled economic development.

The billions of dollars lost to graft could have been invested in critical public services, infrastructure, and social programs that could have uplifted the lives of millions of Zimbabweans.

Zacc has not only failed these but last year Harare regional magistrate Taurai Manuwere ruled that Gokwe Nembudziya MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena (Zanu PF) had no case to answer in a matter he was accused of money-laundering and fraud charges involving US$5,8 million.

Manuwere said the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) failed to prove how Wadyajena performed the illegal transactions from countries such as the United States (US), Holland and Mauritius.

Allegations were that sometime in 2019, Wadyajena defrauded Cottco of US$5,8 million through fictitious purchases of goods purportedly for use by Cottco.

The regional magistrate then removed Wadyajena from remand saying Zacc had no case, adding that they arrested the legislator to investigate him.

Manuwere said the accused could not be kept in remand as it was unknown when the state would conclude its extra-territorial investigations.

Instead, the country continues to reel from the effects of unchecked corruption, with crumbling public services, a moribund economy, and a growing sense of disillusionment among the populace.

Zimbabweans are right to feel betrayed by an institution that has failed to live up to its mandate.

Zacc must be reformed or replaced if it is to fulfill its duty to the people. This may require a complete overhaul of its leadership, investigative capabilities, and legal powers.

It may also necessitate greater oversight and accountability mechanisms to ensure the commission remains steadfast in its mission, rather than bowing to political pressure or personal interests.

The fight against corruption is fundamental to Zimbabwe's future. Without a credible, effective anti-corruption body, the country will remain mired in the quagmire of graft, unable to realize its true potential.

Zimbabweans deserve leaders and institutions that prioritize the public good over personal enrichment.

 Anything less is a betrayal of the trust that citizens have placed in their government.

  • Gary Gerald Mtombeni is a journalist based in Harare. He writes here in his own personal capacity. For feedback Email garymtombeni@gmail.com/ call- +263778861608

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