The Sunday Mail
Cabinet ministers and other senior Government officials have declared their assets in keeping with a Presidential directive tailored to curb high-level corruption.
This fits into President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s public sector reform and corporate governance enhancement agenda.
Officials who complied include ministers, their deputies, permanent secretaries, principal directors, board chairpersons and State enterprise/parastatal executives.
Though The Sunday Mail could not determine the items declared, the exercise involved written declarations of immovable property, movable assets worth at least US$100 000 and business interests.
It is understood the Office of the President and Cabinet is now cross-checking declarations against actual assets on the ground. According to the World Bank, asset declarations are “a power tool” in preventing corruption and detecting illicit enrichment and conflict of interest.
A 2016 WB report (“Asset declarations: A threat to privacy or a powerful anti-corruption tool?”) says over 150 countries have asset disclosure requirements for public officials.
The report says curbing corruption and exposing unexplained wealth “are serious and legitimate public interests”.
Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda told The Sunday Mail last week, “All Cabinet ministers and senior Government officials have heeded the President’s directive to declare their assets.
“What is important is that President Mnangagwa has now been furnished with declared assets from these officials. The list of assets is now with him, and he will now decide the way forward. We will wait for the President to direct us on the next step of action.”
Parliamentary Budget Finance and Economic Development Portfolio Committee chair Cde David Chapfika said: “The focus of this new dispensation is very clear in terms of giving priority to the economy ahead of politics. So, to ensure that the ‘Zimbabwe is Open for Business’ campaign is a success, there needs to transparency at the highest level and declaration of assets is one such tool that can be used to ensure public confidence.
“A public official is a public servant and should, therefore, be subject to public scrutiny because he or she superintends public office and should have nothing to hide.”
Graft is among factors weighing down Zimbabwe’s economy, and the State has embarked on an anti-corruption blitz that has so far netted high-profile characters like former Government ministers Ignatius Chombo, Walter Mzembi, Jason Machaya, Walter Chidhakwa, Joseph Made and Makhosini Hlongwane.
Their cases are at various legal stages.
Further, the State will strengthen the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and is establishing specialised courts focused on graft.
President Mnangagwa set the tone at his November 2017 inauguration, saying: “As we focus on recovering our economy, we must shed misbehaviours and acts of indiscipline which have characterised the past.
“Acts of corruption must stop forthwith. Where they occur, swift justice must be served to show each and all that crime and other acts of economic sabotage can only guarantee ruin to perpetrators.
“We have to aspire to be a clean nation, one sworn to high moral standards and deserved rewards. On these ideals, my administration declares full commitment, warning that grief awaits those who depart from the path of virtue and clean business.”