Tuesday, 25 January 2022

BIGWIGS : ZACC, PROSECUTORS TRADE BARBS

THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption (Zacc) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) yesterday accused each other of failure to nail political bigwigs and private sector bosses involved in graft.

The Zacc and NPA made counter accusations against each other during a Transparency International Zimbabwe (TI-Z) corruption perceptions index launch in Harare.

This followed reports that Zacc only secured four convictions in 2021 out of 180 dockets submitted to the Prosecutor-General.

Zacc, which was allocated $355 million in 2021, will get close to $1 billion in 2022. The anti-corruption body has been accused of sleeping on duty and playing politics.

But Zacc yesterday blamed the prosecution for failing to secure convictions, and pleaded for prosecuting powers. NPA, however, hit back at Zacc for presenting poorly investigated cases for prosecution.

“The government has made it clear that it has zero tolerance to corruption and has shown this by giving us arresting powers and we have been decrying the day that we will also receive prosecution powers,” Zacc deputy chairperson Kuziva Murapa said.

Zacc said it had done a good job to arrest perpetrators who include senior government officials and politically-exposed individuals, but was left down by NPA.

“I want to make here an explanation and a statement that as a commission we only end as far as arresting. We do not proceed to prosecute, so people always confuse arresting and prosecution which is in the purview of the NPA. So when we have finished our investigations, we hand over those accused to the NPA to proceed,” Murapa said.

“This is where we only end, we end at this point. We are not satisfied with the conviction rate so far and we urge our partners in the justice delivery system to expedite prosecution of cases brought to them by Zacc.”

But acting NPA deputy prosecutor-general Michael Reza said they were receiving poorly investigated cases, and were always forced to return them to Zacc or other institutions for further investigations.

“All what the NPA does is prosecute and we do not investigate but here is the problem, when a docket comes, we do not simply go straight into court. For you to convict a person, each and every one of those elements must be properly covered,” he said.

“If a person pleads not guilty and you realise one element is not covered, there is only one judgment that will come out, not guilty and acquitted.

“If a docket comes, we have to look at it and find out whether all the elements are covered, do we have witnesses who will testify to any one of those elements and if one of those elements is not there and there are no witnesses or no documents certified, we send it back to investigators.

“It will be criminal for the NPA to take into court dockets that are not ready for prosecution.”

TI-Z executive director Tafadzwa Chikumbu said corruption indexes were related to other indexes on human rights.

“Countries that are so restrictive and have human rights violations rank very low in terms of the corruption perception index and those that are ranked high in terms of upholding human rights, they all rank high in terms of corruption perception index.”

He said corruption was hitting hard on the retirees, and mentioned the National Social Security Authority scandal where millions of dollars were allegedly siphoned and yet no one has been successfully prosecuted. Newsday

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