Zimbabwean minister held in corruption probe

26 Jul 19

Zimbabwe’s anti-corruption watchdog has detained a senior government official for the first time since it was launched earlier this month.

Zimbabwe tourism minister Prisca MupfumiraTourism minister Prisca Mupfumira [pictured right] was held for questioning by the newly formed Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.

It is the most high-profile arrest by ZACC since it was launched by president Emmerson Mnangagwe after he pledged to clamp down on a problem that costs the country at least $1bn annually. 

“We can confirm that the minister of tourism is currently in our custody for questioning and possible due processes,” the commission said in a brief statement. According to the news agency Reuters, the organisation did not give any details. 

According to state-owned daily The Herald, Prisca Mupfumira was detained over the alleged disappearance of millions of dollars from the state pension fund when she was social welfare minister, reported Al Jazeera.

Mupfumira is a senior member of the ruling ZANU-PF party and in her previous ministerial role oversaw the $1bn fund. 

She was fired just weeks before a military-led coup toppled the former president Robert Mugabe in November 2017, but then reappointed with a new portfolio. 

Although ZACC has been given the power to arrest suspects, opposition politicians have cast doubt on the anti-corruption commission’s effectiveness.

Although Mnangagwa named as its chair a high court judge, Loice Matanda-Moyo, she is the wife of the foreign affairs minister, Sibusiso Moyo, a retired general who was among leaders of the coup against Mugabe. 

Transparency International’s latest data on perceptions of corruption in Zimbabwe highlight an endemic problem that has shown little signs of improvement since 2015.

Its Global Corruption Barometer indicates that 60% of citizens think corruption has increased in the previous 12 months and 70% think their government is doing a bad job of tackling corruption.

In 2016 the organisation estimated that Zimbabwe is losing at least $1bn annually to corruption, with police and local government officials among the worst offenders.

  • Gavin O'Toole, expert on Latin America
    Gavin O'Toole

    A freelance journalist. He has written six books about Latin America and taught the politics of the region at Queen Mary, University of London.

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