HARARE, ZimbabweJuly 26, 2023 |  Zimbabwe‘s Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality, Prisca Mupfumira, was arrested Thursday by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) on allegations of corruption. It is the first high-profile arrest following the appointment two weeks ago of ZACC chair Loice Matanda-Moyo, who has vowed zero tolerance for crimes and obstruction.

Zimbabwe’s minister of tourism has been held for questioning by a newly-constituted anti-corruption commission.

Mupfumira, a senior member of the ruling ZANU-PF party, previously oversaw the $1 billion state pension fund. She was fired by former President Robert Mugabe weeks before a military-led coup that toppled him in November 2017.

She was reappointed after Mugabe’s removal and given a new portfolio.

According to state-owned daily The Herald, Mupfumira was detained over the alleged disappearance of millions of dollars at the country’s pension fund when she was social welfare minister.  She is the first senior government official to be held by the commission which was overhauled by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on July 15.

Matanda-Moyo, who was seconded for three years from her position as a High Court judge, recently acknowledged that “corruption is quite rampant in all sectors of our economy” and promised “to leave no stone unturned” to ensure that everybody who is engaging in corrupt activities – including high-profile personalities – is brought to justice in order to achieve a “corrupt-free Zimbabwe.

“Once we join hands in fighting corruption, we will win and our economic challenges will disappear,” Matanda-Moyo said, adding “Zimbabwe prisons will be open for business.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa made a controversial appointment when he chose Matanda-Moyo to lead the country’s anti-corruption commission.

Matanda-Moyo is a former high court judge, whose husband shot to prominence two years ago by announcing the military takeover that removed Robert Mugabe from power.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa was elected a year ago on the promises of implementing wide-ranging reforms and fighting rampant corruption, following the 37-year tenure of Robert Mugabe. Mnangagwa reformed the ZACC in February, which he described as “rotten to the core” at the time, and set up the new anti-graft body with nine bipartisan commissioners from varied backgrounds, including auditors, accountants, lawyers and police officers.

Pledging political will and commitment to fight corruption, the government has recently given ZACC arresting powers and it is amending the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act to include Unexplained Wealth orders, which will make recoveries of ill-gotten wealth much easier. The government is also in the process of crafting legislation that protects whistle-blowers and witnesses in corruption cases.  

While the detention of Mupfumira is the first high-profile arrest, ZACC is currently investigating over 200 cases of corruption.

In an audit report in June, the ZACC has accused several prominent officials of abuse of funds. The scandal has been labelled as the “National Social Security Authority Scandal”.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Services Commission is moving to open specialized Anti-Corruption Courts in all 10 provinces of the country, with courts having already been opened in the capital Harare, as well as Bulawayo, Mutare and Masvingo.

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) is an independent commission created to combat corruption and crime. 

Additional reporting by Al Jazeera and reporter Chris Muronzi in Harare.


Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission

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