THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Corruption (ZACC) yesterday said it is concerned about the public perception that suspects are only arrested as a window dressing measure and is working with partners to improve its services.
In an interview on the side-lines of a national anti-corruption development strategy workshop in Bulawayo, ZACC Commissioner Thandiwe Mlobani said ZACC is not facing any political interference but cases may sometimes be complex with whistle-blowers also not forthcoming.
She said as an anti-graft commission they are aware of the label that they are involved in the catch and release of suspects.
Catch and release refers to the hype of arresting suspected corrupt officials before they are released by the courts with the cases dragging for too long.
Comm Mlobani said corruption was very complicated and ZACC wants to establish shortcomings that could be in existence and address them.
“It’s true that the public has raised this concern about catch and release and they have attributed it to ZACC. Unfortunately, it’s not ZACC’s responsibility alone. This is a whole process. ZACC according to the Constitution and the Act is mandated to carry out investigations, so ZACC only investigates cases of corruption and once the cases have been completed ZACC then refers the cases to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA),” she said.
Comm Mlobani said the NPA takes the case to a magistrate or High Court judge for prosecution who will then determine whether to detain or release a suspect.
She said suspects also have rights just like any other citizen that must be upheld and respected.
“In cases where ZACC has investigated and carried out an arrest and submitted the case to the NPA and it takes over and presents the case before a magistrate and someone apparently looks like they are being released, it’s because there are so many laws that are there. One, you are innocent until proven guilty and secondly, there are rights that everyone has according to the Constitution and human rights globally, so we have to respect those rights,” said Comm Mlobani.
She said as a commission they invited the NPA, police, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services among other stakeholders to its two-day anti-corruption development strategic workshop which ends today, to come up with strategies to fight corruption.
“We are here to look at the inter value chain as a national strategy to see how we can work together and ensure that we have quality investigations, we have quality prosecutions to give us the results that we want, convictions that will lead to us being able to recover assets that would have been stolen. That’s why we are here to look at that. We appreciate the concerns from the public, we are also concerned, the NPA is concerned and the judiciary is also concerned,” Comm Mlobani said.
She said it was high time that the Whistleblowers Act was enacted so that whistleblowers have confidence in reporting graft cases.