Permanent secretaries yesterday expressed outrage over the conduct of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) to ambush them and accuse them of alleged crimes committed by officials in parastatals and state-owned enterprises under their purview.
Some of the affidavits, signed by chief investigations officer Mr Servious Kufandada, cited the permanent secretaries as accused persons even when most of the cases said to be under investigation belong to their respective parastatals.
It emerged yesterday that while ZACC officials rushed to the media to inform them of all the “investigations” they were carrying out, the investigators were yet to visit some of those entities.
Permanent secretaries said to have been issued with search and seizure warrants include Ambassador Grace Mutandiro (Lands and Resettlement), Munesu Munodawafa (Transport and Infrastructure Development), Engineer George Mlilo (Local Government, Public Works and National Housing), Willard Manungo (Finance and Economic Development), Evelyn Ndlovu (Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development) and Dr Sam Kundishora (Information, Communication Technology and Courier Services).
Government, through the secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba, has rapped ZACC officials for impugning Government systems in their efforts to probe the alleged crimes. The alleged crimes range from fraud to disregard of tender procedures.
Mr Charamba said Government did not condone corruption, and added that ZACC, as a constitutional body should not behave like a “rattlesnake” and investigate cases first before making noise in the media.
Mr Munodawafa yesterday said while they had co-operated with ZACC officials who visited the ministry offices, their approach was “antagonising”.
ZACC is seeking evidence with regards to payments done from the Number Plate Fund since 2009.
ZACC, from what has been gathered to date, seems to be working on weak evidence.
Ambassador Mutandiro said she joined the Lands and Rural Resettlement Ministry last year and was disturbed to read in the papers that she was under probe in a matter that began more than two decades ago.
“Nobody has come here or asked for any information from me, and I am surprised what this is all about,” she said.
“I was not in the ministry and only became permanent secretary last year. When all this happened, I was ambassador in Vienna and I don’t know anything. If they had said they want to come and investigate the issue of these farms (Caledonia and Odar), it would have been in order but then to mention my name as if I am a criminal is wrong. Nobody has served me with any paper up to now. This is why I am so upset.”
Dr Kundishora said five ZACC officials had ambushed him yet the matter they intended to investigate had nothing to do with him.
“They came, but their approach is not good at all,” he said. “You will only comply because you are a senior civil servant, but they came unannounced as if I am hiding or refusing with something. It’s not bad to carry out an assignment as assigned from a higher office, but I think it’s always better to at least alert people through the normal systems.
“Their approach gave us an impression that they knew something already and wanted to ambush us. The way it is being done is not good, and after all, on the issues they wanted to ask me, I am not the central point on them. They should have approached those parastatals before coming here to seek my opinion. It’s good to investigate corruption but the approach has to be civil.”
Said Eng Mlilo: “I don’t know what they are talking about. No one came to my ministry and I actually want to sue them because I am disturbed by this. These are accusations, which do not say where we went wrong. You can’t just soil my name like that.”
The timing of the probe has also been questioned as the leading ZACC investigating officer Mr Kufandada has a tainted past as he stands accused of working with opposition political parties during the run up to the 2013 elections.
It is also believed that the anti-corruption officials are being pushed by some politicians to cause chaos in Government. herald