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Henrietta Rushwaya was allegedly busted trying to smuggle 6,9kg of gold
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) top official Tawanda Zvekare has made startling claims Zimbabwe’s prosecuting arm of the judiciary does not have enough evidence to secure a conviction against Zimbabwe artisanal miners boss Henrietta Rushwaya, who was busted October 2020 trying to smuggle 6,9kg of gold through the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
Zvekare, who is NPA Chief Public Prosecutor Special Projects, was speaking at a recent launch of the 2022 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) report, which ranked Zimbabwe number 157 out of 180 surveyed countries, a position that makes the southern African country one of the most corrupt territories in the world.
He said the NPA was also facing similar hurdles in securing a conviction against former Public Service Minister Prisca Mupfumira, who was arrested July 2019 charged with corruption involving $95 million from the state pension fund.
“For the serious cases which you were talking about, that’s Henrietta Rushwaya case, the Prisca Mupfumira case and like cases, I would want to say that the threshold for proving a criminal case is proof beyond reasonable doubt, which is a high threshold.
“It may not be discharged easily,” he said.
The veteran prosecutor blamed Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) investigators for letting the NPA down through passing what he described as poorly investigated dockets which often fail the test when they are presented in the courts.
“As NPA, we depend on the investigators, that is the police, that is ZACC,” he said.
“If they give us a good docket, with enough evidence, we will not fail you. We will do our bit.
“But at times we are not given good cases to prosecute, so to speak by the investigators and we would be compromised in our discharge of our mandate as prosecutors.
“This is why some cases, which may be obvious to you, that this is an obvious conviction, may not be necessarily so because of various factors.
“I can give an example of a soccer match, we are strikers and if the midfielders who are the investigators give us poor passes, we cannot score.
“But we are trying our level best to prosecute every criminal case without fear, favour or prejudice. This is our mandate but there may be other factors which may militate against us.”
Zvekare said the Transparency International CPI index was harsh on Zimbabwe, a country he said has made visible attempts to weed out corruption in the past three years.
He further dismissed claims that Zimbabwean courts were presiding over the infamous catch and release tradition which has seen corrupt elements linked to the ruling Zanu PF party systematically spared imprisonment.
“We have been realizing convictions for corruption. Few examples, in the public domain; we have got the Psychology Maziwisa, Oscar Pambukas, the (former energy minister Samuel) Undenges, just to mention a few,” he said.
Maziwisa, a former Zanu PF MP for Highfield and Pambuka, a former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) news anchor were each sentenced to six years in jail for defrauding the Zimbabwe Power Company of US$12,650.
Undenge was sent to jail but was released few months later through presidential amnesty.
Added Zvekare, “But there is no improvement on the index, which is quite worrying, and I have noticed from the calculation of the index that it is so limited that you are not considering money laundering, tax fraud and all that which are the biggest crimes in this country.
“That is why we have got an asset capture unit and all these efforts are not captured so that they are reflected in the index.
“The index (Zimbabwe positioning), while it is very poor, may not be really reflective of the situation on the ground.”
CPI is a global barometer used to measure perceived levels of public sector corruption among 180 world territories.
It captures things such as bribery, diversion of public funds, use of public office for private gain, nepotism in the civil service and state capture among some of the manifestations of corruption in a given country.