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Zimbabwe tourism and environment minister Prisca Mupfumira, center, arrives at court in Harare, July 26, 2019.

Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa has sacked arrested Labor Minister Prisca Mupfumira, who is facing charges of corruption involving $95 million from the state pension fund, the National Social Security Authority.

In a letter dated August 8, 2019, signed by the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, President Mnangagwa said he fired Mupfumira due to her inappropriate conduct.

“Please be advised that His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde E.D. Mnangagwa, has in terms of section 340, subsection (1), paragraph (f) as read with section 104, subsection (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe has removed you, Prisca Mupfumira from the office of Cabinet Minister and Minister of Government with immediate effect for conduct inappropriate for a Government Minister.”

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba confirmed the sacking of Mupfumira but declined to add any further details.

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) arrested Mupfumira a week ago and laid charges against her ranging from abuse of state pension funds to finance her political campaigns to directing investments of up to $62 million into a bank against the advice of the National Social Security Authority.

CORRUPTION

Mupfumira is also accused of leaning on the pension fund to enter into property deals with the same bank worth $15.7 million.

The charges arose from Mupfumira’s tenure as labor minister between 2014 and 2018, when she oversaw the state pension fund.

Prosecutors say she is linked to several other suspected cases of corruption involving millions of dollars in state funds.

Transparency International says Zimbabwe loses $1 billion to corruption every year.

Zimbabwe's state pension fund, which has assets exceeding $1 billion, has often been targeted for looting by politicians and public officials, none of whom have been prosecuted until now.

The auditor general completed a forensic audit into the state pension fund in March. Opposition parliamentarians, who believe the report details extensive fraud, have been pushing for it to be released. Labor Minister Sekai Nzenza says the report will be released soon.

200 CASES UNDER REVIEW

The new anti-graft body has, however, said the audit report forms the basis of one of 200 corruption cases it is currently pursuing.

Mupfumira is locked up at Chikurubi Remand Prison in the outskirts of the capital, Harare.

Thokozani Khupe and Nelson Chamisa.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Nelson Chamisa claims that the Zimbabwean government has withheld an unspecified amount of money it is entitled to under the Political Parties (Finance) Act.

In a statement, the MDC claims that the disbursement of the money was blocked by the MDC-T led by Thokozani Khupe.

“In a brazen act of political thuggery, the government has withheld the MDC grant entitled to the party under the Political Parties Finance Act while Zanu PF has already been paid their dues. The past one week has seen top MDC officials being sent from pillar to post in their quest to get the grant entitled to the party under the laws of the country.

“The government grant is the money that as a party we use to support parliamentary work and other administrative and political purposes that advance the agenda of the people who continue to support the MDC, as evidenced by the 2,6 million votes received by President nelson Chamisa in last year’s stolen election. Now Zanu PF is engaging in cheap political games to deny the party its share entitled to it under the Political Parties Finance Act.”

The MDC claims that the Ministry of Justice’s permanent secretary, Virginia Mabhiza, confirmed last week that the government has disbursed state grants to political parties.

“… She confirmed that she had already disbursed money to Zanu PF but upon being asked about the MDC share, she referred us to Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who denied that they had received the money from Treasury. On Tuesday, 6 August 2019, the MDC secretary General Hon. Chalton Hwende met with the Finance Minister Hon. Mthuli Ncube at Parliament in the presence of Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi. Minister Ncube insisted in the presence of Minister Ziyambi that he had since disbursed money to political parties. Minister Ncube expressed shock that the MDC had not received its share of the money, to which minister Ziyambi then promised to disburse the money the following day but he did not do so.”

The MDC further claims that Khupe’s party, represented by Lovemore Madhuku, wrote a letter to the Ministry of Justice indicating that the MDC-T was the rightful beneficiary of the state grant.

“… For that reason they said they could not disburse our money. It is important to state that Madhuku was a presidential candidate who contested the last election. Mrs (sic) Khupe’s party also contested the last election and her party is represented in Parliament. It is shocking that a party with representation in Parliament, which representation fails to meet the threshold for receiving money under the Political Parties Finance Act, would claim money due to another political party.

“The MDC bemoans the conflation between the party and the State which Zanu PF is using to deny us the money due to us under the laws of the land. We have seen statements from the government saying we cannot receive our money because government has other priorities. Yet this is the same government that is on record saying that they have a surplus. If they have a surplus on their budget as they claim, they should simply give the MDC its share.”

Madhuku and Kazembe were not available for comment.

According to the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, until the passage of the Political Parties (Finance) Act of 1992 there was no provision for the financing of political parties in Zimbabwe. The Act provided for state funding of political parties which held 15 seats in parliament or more. At this stage only the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) qualified, holding 117 of the 120 seats in the House of Assembly. The United Parties challenged this provision in the Supreme Court in 1997 and the court ordered the threshold to be reduced to 5% of votes cast in the last general election; effect to this order was given by the Political Parties (Finance) Amendment Act of 1997.

The amount allocated to parties in the annual budget submitted to parliament is paid as soon as is practicable thereafter. Some provisions of the Political Parties (Finance) Act of 2001 stipulate that the budget lays down the amount which each party must receive, and this is determined by the proportion of votes it received in the previous general election.

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