A sitting cabinet minister in Zimbabwe’s government is facing charges of abuse of office, bringing to two the number of high ranking officials in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, nabbed by the country’s corruption watchdog, this year.
The chair of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), Loice Matanda-Moyo, confirmed that the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs (Monitoring and Implementation of Government Programs) Joram Gumbo, is scheduled to appear in a Harare court, Tuesday, to answer to allegations of abuse of office, during his tenure as minister of transport.
“Yes, it's correct that the ZACC has taken in the former minister of transport and currently he is being questioned by ZACC with the view of taking him for a remand before the courts tomorrow (Tuesday),” said Matanda-Moyo.
Gumbo faces several charges including renovating a government property and renovating it for one million U.S dollars, involvement is a fuel deal worth $US$2.7 which was never delivered, and reinstating persons who were under investigation for corruption.
“He is accused of having leased his niece’s property for Zim Airways, and paid a million dollars for its renovations and payment of rentals, and did not declare that he was conflicted in that matter,” explained Matanda-Moyo.
“He is also accused of being involved in the CMED (Central Mechanical and Engineering Department), a fuel deal he was involved in where US$2.7 million was paid to a second company and no fuel was delivered,” she continued.
“And he is also accused of having directed the reinstatement of persons facing corruption charges, and they had not been cleared by the courts, and others,” added Matanda-Moyo.
Gumbo is the second minister in President Mnangagwa’s government under active investigation for corruption. The first to be investigated and arrested was former Tourism Minister Prisca Mupfumira, who was arrested in July over allegations involving the National Social Security Authority that she was in charge of as then minister of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare.
Mupfumira is currently out on bail.
Asked about the status of the case and possibility of Mupfumira being charged for the alleged misuse of US$94million, Matanda-Moyo said ZACC’s responsibility is solely to investigate, not prosecute.
“ZACC only investigates matters. So people have got this wrong impression that it is ZACC which then prosecutes the matters. ZACC’S duties end with investigations,” explained Matanda-Moyo. “I do agree that sometimes we do lose control of the matters along the way, but for us we are doing our part as ZACC, in investigating the matters and taking the matters to court.”
Matanda-Moyo said her commission is currently investigating 30 people, the majority of them ministers, so more arrests are likely.
“We are investigating about 30 high profile matters and most of them are ministers. But we are just waiting to get all the evidence. We cannot simply push the docket through without thoroughly investigating them otherwise it will result in acquittals,” said Matanda-Moyo.
The Commission appealed to the public to discretely report incidents of corruption, and Matanda-Moyo said while many are assisting the Commission with making reports, investigations have been difficult as many fear reprisals.
She said she’s hoped that would change once laws protecting whistleblowers are implemented.
“So I'm really pleased that people are coming forward with reports of corruption, but perhaps what’s only lacking is the legislation pertaining to whistleblowers protection in Witnesses Protection Act. So once we get that legal framework in place I want to believe that our people would then be prepared to bring all the evidence that they have, because whilst they are reporting, some of them are not yet comfortable to come forward with information, without such protection,” said Matanda-Moyo.
According to Matanda-Moyo, the Commission is investigating about 1,000 cases, due to tips from the public.
The lawyer representing Gumbo, Selby Hwacha, said his client was not arrested, but was just questioned, but could not confirm whether he would appear in court on Tuesday.
Edited by Gibbs Dube, VOA Zimbabwe Service