CORRUPT politicians and others arrested for corruption are going scotfree because the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) is not thoroughly investigating the cases, the office of the Prosecutor-General has said.
Acting National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) deputy prosecutor-general Michael Reza made the revelations while explaining the low rate of conviction of cases involving corruption in Zimbabwe, a situation which has seen the country being ranked among the world’s most corrupt.
Zimbabwe was ranked 157 out of 180 in the latest Transparency International perception index, amid revelations that ZACC only secured four convictions in 2021 out of 180 dockets submitted to the Prosecutor-General.
Reza said they were receiving poorly investigated cases, and were always forced to return such dockets to ZACC in other law enforcement agents 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,” Reza 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.”
However, ZACC is adamant that its cases are thorough and is being let down by the NPA which it says fails to prosecute the case competently. ZACC is pleading with legislators to change the law and give it prosecution powers so that it can take its cases further up the justice system.
“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.”
Previously, ZACC used to blame lack of funding for its poor record of conviction. However, last year it was funded to the tune of $350 million. In the year 2022, ZACC is primed to get $1 billion from the Treasury.
Critics say ZACC lacks the gravitas to arrest powerfully connected bigwigs in politics because it is staffed by pro-Zanu PF persons.