Anti-Corruption

Special Anti-Corruption Unit is a government organisation or department housed in the Office of the President and Cabinet to improve efficiency in the fight against all forms of graft and to strengthen the effectiveness of national mechanisms for the prevention of corruption.

Background

SACU was established by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2018 to collaborate with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and other such institutions in the fight against corruption.[1]

The Judicial Service Commission, in support of Government policy on the fight against corruption, has also established specialised anti-corruption courts which have not been fully utilised. Inspite of all these efforts the National Prosecuting Authority made meaningful progress in the prosecution of these cases before the courts. The President noted the concern by the Prosecutor General that the National Prosecuting Authority lacks the human capacity to effectively prosecute these matters. The Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs therefore recommended that a Special Unit be constituted to give effect to the policy pronouncement by the President to fight against corruption.

Mandate

It is responsible for assisting ZACC and other investigative agencies of the State in the perusal and consideration of corruption dockets, subject to the issuance of authority to prosecute by the Prosecutor General. It also prosecutes corruption cases referred to the National Prosecuting Authority by investigative agencies.

Objectives

The overall objectives of the unit are to improve efficiency in the fight against all forms of corruption and to strengthen and improve the effectiveness of the national mechanisms for the prevention and fight against corruption in accordance with the anti-corruption strategy. One of the key and critical objectives was the prosecution of a number of high profile corruption cases. This goal is critical in view of the fact that the President has articulated zero tolerance to all forms of corruption and the need to expeditiously prosecute all such cases.

Team

Mr Thabani Mpofu, a renowned lawyer and former State prosecutor, heads the six-member team that also includes lawyers from Government, private practice and experienced prosecutors.[2]

  • Mr Thabani Mpofu (SACU) - Director
  • Mr Brian Vito
  • Mr Tapiwa Godzi
  • Mr Mike Chakandida
  • Mr Zivanai Macharaga
  • Ms Vernanda Chakandida

Cases Handled and Arrests Made

  • Six councilors in Zimbabwe's capital were arrested in August 2020 for allegedly being involved in land scams. The arrests came after President Emmerson Mnangagwa called for stepping up fight against corruption, arguing that arresting the “small and big fish” should become the new normal. The arrests were confirmed by Tabani Mpofu, the head of the Special Anti-Corruption Unit. The officials included Mayor Herbert Gomba, Principal Housing Director Edgar Dzehonye, Acting Human Resources Director Matthew Marara and Housing Director Addmore Nhekairo who were facing accusations of criminal abuse of office.[3] [4]
  • The presidential anti-corruption special prosecution unit dumped the matter in which the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe director-general Gift Machengete was being accused of violating the Procurement Act in June 2019. Machengete’s case was handed over to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) after the special anti-corruption unit failed to commence the trial on several occasions, raising questions on its capacity to handle corruption cases.[5] The trial was supposed to kick off in March 2019, but the matter was postponed on several occasions due to the non-appearance of the special prosecutor Tabani Mpofu and the case was later handed over to the NPA.
  • The Special Anti-Corruption Unit (Sacu) in the Office of the President and Cabinet launched an investigation into long-running Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) corruption scandals, which may claim the scalp of senior executives at the entity. Mr Tabani Mpofu – a renowned lawyer who leads the crack unit – confirmed the probe. He said: “We have received complaints of corruption allegations against PSMAS. We have referred the matter to the relevant investigating institutions. The probe is on.”[6]
  • CID director Commissioner Chrispen Charumbira was arrested on 24 September 2020 on allegations of accepting protection money from drug and gold dealers to stop criminal investigations. He was arrested by the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (Sacu) after seven of his junior officers alleged he had been interfering with their duties by protecting drug and gold dealers after accepting bundles of US dollars in protection money. Comm Charumbira was picked up for questioning by Sacu officers in the morning before being taken to Morris Depot for further investigations and last night was detained at Rhodesville Police Station. He was expected to appear in court on 26 September 2020.

Controversy

Constitutional law expert Professor Lovemore Madhuku said the setting up of Mnangagwa’s corruption department was in violation of the constitution, which outlines a detailed framework on the institutions with the mandate to tackle graft.

“The constitution provides a clear framework on the institution with power to fight corruption, which is the NPA,” Madhuku said. “He (Mnangagwa) is not allowed to do that (setting up a Special Anti-Corruption Unit housed in his office). He is trying to re-write the constitution. He has to push for an amendment to achieve that.”[7]

References

  1. Daniel Nemukuyu, [1], The Herald, Published: 29 July, 2020, Accessed: 25 September, 2020
  2. [2], The Sunday Mail, Published: 8 July, 2018, Accessed: 25 September, 2020
  3. [3], Anadolu Agency, Published: 18 August, 2020, Accessed: 25 September, 2020
  4. Kimberleigh Jiro, [4], ZTN News, Published: 17 August, 2020, Accessed: 25 September, 2020
  5. Desmond Chingarande, [5], Newsday, Published: 14 June, 2019, Accessed: 25 September, 2020
  6. [6], Zimbabwe Market Watch, Published: 7 April, 2019, Accessed: 25 September, 2020
  7. Tinashe Kairiza, [7], Zimbabwe Independent, Published: 1 June, 2018, Accessed: 25 September, 2020