HARARE – In yet another high profile case that is set to send political temperatures soaring, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has launched investigations into cases of alleged corruption running into tens of millions of dollars involving high-ranking MDC officials.
By Fungi Kwaramba and Tendai Kamhungira
The Daily News on Sunday also learnt yesterday that among the people who are under Zacc’s latest spotlight is the eldest son of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Edwin — amid vociferous claims by the opposition that this is nothing more than a political “hatchet job” ahead of the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
This emerged after Zacc insiders told the newspaper that they were investigating, among other local authorities, the Harare City Council (HCC) — where a government probe is said to have recently uncovered tender and financial irregularities, including those related to a $13 million sewer rehabilitation tender.
But the MDC, which runs most of the country’s local authorities, including HCC, came out guns blazing yesterday saying it was being targeted by Zanu PF using Zacc — at a time the-anti graft body is engaged in a titanic battle with Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo over allegations of multiple fraud by the Tsholotsho North legislator at the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef), in a case that has become politically toxic within President Robert Mugabe’s warring ruling party.
At the same time, a Zacc insider who spoke to the Daily News On Sunday revealed that they were pursuing Edwin Tsvangirai over his alleged participation in a “dodgy” tender for the supply of water chemicals to HCC.
Zacc is alleging that Edwin allegedly used former HCC deputy mayor Emmanuel Chiroto to facilitate the deal, in which he is said to have acted as an agent, that resulted in the tender being irregularly awarded to a South African company with links to him.
It is further claimed that Harare businessman McDonald Chapfika lost his then obtaining contract with HCC when the new deal kicked in.
“We are looking for him (Edwin) as Zacc. We want to interview him so that he can explain his role in this case,” said the source, adding that “huge amounts of money” had allegedly changed hands at the time.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, confirmed to the Daily News On Sunday yesterday that Zacc was targeting senior party officials in its latest blitz.
“Zanu PF is so embarrassed by events of the past few weeks that have proved that graft and corruption are firmly located in the party, and are now planning a swoop on MDC members in a desperate attempt at equalisation.
“It has come to our attention that upon realising the political damage of the corruption stories confirming that Zanu PF is the haven for the corrupt and kleptocratic, the party is planning to stage-manage cheap drama by picking up a few opposition and civic activists to spread the political damage.
“Zacc should act without fear or favour and should shy away from playing politics and being used to smear, malign and soil the images of innocent Zimbabweans as they will definitely be embarrassed in the courts,” said.
“Of course, corruption should be dealt with severely. Zimbabweans know that it was the MDC that first sent a loud message against corruption when it fired a whole council in Chitungwiza on suspicion of having dabbled in corrupt activities,” he added.
Zacc recently swooped on Moyo and his Higher Education deputy Godfrey Gandawa — accusing them of being involved in multiple serious fraud, money laundering and criminal abuse of office activities involving Zimdef funds.
The ensuing storm not only exposed Zanu PF’s nasty tribal, factional and succession fissures, but also the ruling party’s gross abuse of State resources to advance its interests and those of its senior officials.
Moyo has in turn accused Team Lacoste, the Zanu PF faction rallying behind Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations, of working with key players at Zacc to wage a factionally-driven war against him, claims which the anti-graft body has denied.
The Constitutional Court (Con-Court) has since moved to stay (suspend) all the criminal proceedings against Moyo until it hears and rules on his application challenging Zacc’s powers.
At the same time, Zacc is also said to be investigating Moyo over $5 million which was released for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) promotion, which the anti-graft body suspects could have also been improperly handled.
It has also widened its probes to include activities that occurred during Moyo’s tenure at the Constitutional Commission in 2000, as well as his time at the Information ministry between September 2013 and last year, before the Tsholotsho North MP was appointed Higher Education minister.
Amid all this, Moyo has stunningly accused Mnangagwa of using Zacc and other key institutions such as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and State media to advance the VP’s mooted presidential aspirations.
In a hard-hitting statement a fortnight ago, Moyo also gave notice of his intention to sue Mnangagwa, Information minister Christopher Mushohwe and Information permanent secretary George Charamba — among many others — for smearing him.
“On their own admission, as subsequently confirmed by … Mnangagwa, Zacc, in circumstances that are unclear, met with … Mnangagwa at least twice to discuss allegations that Zacc was putting together in relation to me.
“After these meetings with the vice president, commissioner Goodson Nguni claimed to various persons that the vice president communicated to them that my arrest had been cleared (ostensibly by Mugabe) when this in fact was not true,” he said.
“I have learnt, and it has been established that these meetings with the vice president (Mnangagwa) are not meetings provided for by the law, and were intended to secure that the political ends currently being pursued by the vice president are advanced in relation to what has become public knowledge about the desire to secure a front foot in succession politics,” Moyo added.
He also said his current political and legal woes were allegedly part of Mnangagwa’s grand scheme to smear his reputation as a minister, MP and politburo member.
“The events manifest at Zacc in the past few weeks in relation to me are a culmination of a calculated political strategy to use the so-called ‘anti-corruption campaign’ as a political tool,” he thundered.
He said besides Zacc having no arresting powers, it had attempted on four occasions to arrest him at Zanu PF headquarters, his house, his ministerial office and at Parliament.
He also said the NPA was also being used in the alleged plot to arrest him, further stating that some senior officers from the authority were part of the meeting with Zacc and Mnangagwa.
He said this had undermined the independence of the NPA, an aspect which he said had been exacerbated by the appointment of the acting prosecutor general Ray Goba.
He further accused Zacc’s Nguni and Goba of being convicted criminals, adding that their appointments had been administered by Mnangagwa.
“These patently unlawful appointments are not by coincidence but are intended to capture State institutions, and further a factional political cause by the use of individuals who are not fit and proper persons as willing weapons against perceived political opponents. In view of these matters, I am taking legal action against the NPA.
“For the avoidance of doubt, I wish to categorically state that the so-called Zacc allegations against me are false, malicious, political, tribal, factional and are an unjustified and illegal attack on my ministerial and parliamentary responsibilities as assigned to me by the appointing authority, His Excellency, the president. I have not committed any crime under any law,” he fumed. – Daily News