Acting Zimbabwe President Phelekezela Mphoko yesterday slammed the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) for “maliciously” seeking to arrest Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo at the Zanu-PF national headquarters in Harare.
He said ZACC has no powers to arrest a Cabinet Minister without authorisation from the President. Media reports said a team of ZACC investigators led by chief investigations officer Mr Alex Masiye, in the company of police, reportedly sought to arrest Prof Moyo after a Politburo meeting on Wednesday last week.
“There is this topical issue involving the (Zimbabwe) Anti-Corruption Commission, which wanted to arrest Minister Jonathan Moyo. The law of this country says the commission (ZACC) has no mandate or power to arrest a Cabinet Minister appointed by the President and even police or whoever is required to get clearance from the President to do so. The President is the only person who can sanction such an arrest as the appointing authority,” said Acting President Mphoko.
He said the conduct exhibited by ZACC officials was “tantamount to undermining the authority of the President.”“If you want to arrest a senior Government official such as a principal director or Permanent Secretary, you need to approach the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, but whenever police intend to arrest a Cabinet Minister, they should first seek permission to do so from the President.
What happened is clear malice by people who want to do things the illegal way,” said the Acting President.“What happened is undermining the President. Surely when the President is busy addressing a Politburo meeting and the anti-commission is busy outside plotting to arrest him (Prof Moyo) thereafter. This is like it’s mutiny in a country.”
Acting President Mphoko said no matter how powerful a politician might appear in the eyes of the public, their powers cannot override Presidential decisions.He defended Prof Moyo, saying, the Minister was just being persecuted for supporting President Mugabe and Zanu-PF.
“His (Prof Moyo) only crime is that he supports the President and those who want to have him arrested are people who do not support the President because the one million man march is a Zanu-PF initiative and the 21st February Movement is a legacy of the President. So why do you arrest such a person?” he asked.
Acting President Mphoko also questioned the rationale behind the plot to arrest Prof Moyo in Parliament yet legislators enjoyed Parliamentary immunity.
“This is mischievous and we’re actually hunting for the person who is behind all this. Members of Parliament have immunity and they cannot be arrested in Parliament, but those boys were given an order to arrest Prof Moyo,” he said.
The ZACC report revealed allegations of fraud and criminal abuse of office resulting in the embezzlement of about $430 000 of Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) money, allegedly by the minister, his deputy Dr Godfrey Gandawa and some officials.
Allegations pointed to corrupt and fraudulent transactions involving the ministry, and two companies namely Fuzzy Technologies (Pvt) Ltd and Wisebone Trading. The Zimbabwe National Students’ Union (Zinasu), last week called for the immediate resignation of Prof Moyo and his deputy following allegations of corruption involving $270 000 they reportedly siphoned from Zimdef.
Zimdef is a State enterprise in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, created in terms of Section 47(1) of the Manpower Planning and Development Act. The objective of the fund is to benefit students at tertiary institutions across the country including when they are on industrial attachment.
ZACC wants to interview Prof Moyo and Dr Gandawa and three other public officials in connection with fraud and money laundering allegations.