For decades, corruption permeated basically every section of society in the country.
Traffic cops prowled the roads, demanding and accepting bribes. Village heads extracted inducements from people seeking places to build rural homes while senior Government officials, in some cases, ministers accepted large sums of money from the well-heeled desperate to secure multi-million dollar contracts.
At border posts, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and immigration officials and security personnel manning the gates were in the game too, milking the public of their hard-earned money in the process also prejudicing the State of the much-needed revenue.
Indeed, the country had been overcome by corruption. It looked fashionable and smart to engage in it yet it is actually dirty and criminal.
Under the Second Republic, one needs to be really brave, foolhardy rather to be still demanding bribes at the border posts, on the roads, in the village or in high places as much focus is being put against such activities.
President Mnangagwa has been on a crusade against the vice from the day he was inaugurated in November 2017. In his inauguration speech he denounced corruption and warned that the days of rent-seeking behaviour had ended. In his many other speeches thereafter, he has been strongly critical of the scourge and always explains how dangerous it was to national economic development.
His campaign against corruption has not ended with public statements against the vice but his Government has taken practical steps to back those remarks up.
Many people, including very influential people, one of whom worked in his office as well as a sitting minister and ex-Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko have been arrested for alleged corruption or other untoward activity.
Former Director of State Residences Douglas Tapfuma was arrested for criminal abuse of office after he allegedly imported a fleet of vehicles without paying duty. He became the second high-profile Government figure to be arrested ZACC after the then Tourism, Environment and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira was arrested a few days earlier.
In February, the all anti-corruption commissioners resigned after it emerged that instead of fighting corruption, some of them were actually engaging in it. That paved the way for the appointment of a new team led by Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo.
The recovery by ZACC of $100 million in ill-gotten wealth as we reported in these pages yesterday is evidence that the times of lip service against corruption are gone.
She said ZACC was only dealing with the forfeiture of properties and money, while the National Prosecuting Authority was going to court for confirmation.
“The goods we are holding on to run into hundreds of millions of dollars and right now we are in the process of preparing papers for the recovering of properties in the leafy suburbs. In Borrowdale we are looking at over 10 properties of high value, and we have got so many vehicles now which we have targeted, others are already in our possession,” said Justice Matanda-Moyo.
She said there had been a surge in the number of convictions, but more needed to be done to reform legal instruments.
“In the past, the investigations have not been thorough but if you have followed events recently there are now convictions. Investigations have actually improved. Our laws are not user friendly, so we want these academics to help in the formulation of new laws. We want to bring in academics, we want those universities to help us in formulation of laws,” she said.
She added that there was need for more reforms to be made so that recovery of looted property or assets acquired through stolen money is expedited.
“They must be dealt with efficiently and effectively so that we can also be able to recover the loot. If we take too long dealing with corruption matters, then we will not be able to recover anything. By the time we are through with a criminal matter the person would have moved all the funds and we will not be able to recover anything. So we really need those laws to be changed so that it is easier to deal with corruption.”
We are seeing genuine progress in the anti-corruption fight and want ZACC to continue on that path.
To add to the good work that is being done, we don’t think it would be a bad idea for authorities to publish the names of persons and or entities whose properties have been confiscated.