The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has made its first official arrest with the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA) finance director Simon Taranhike being charged with criminal abuse of office and attempts to conceal corruption charges.
ZACC was given arresting powers through Statutory Instrument 143 of 2019 which was announced in the Extraordinary Government Gazette published last Friday.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, in terms of Section 2 (paragraph h) of the definition of “peace officer” under the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (Chapter 9:07) included ZACC officers giving them powers to arrest individuals they find wanting on issues of corruption.
ZINARA has been under the spotlight after a forensic audit unearthed several corrupt activities including irregular tenders and off the book procurement procedures and Taranhike is believed to be one of the ZINARA bosses who were being investigated for attempts to conceal corruption through media blackouts among other methods.
In the wake of the audit report, some senior managers were accused of trying to scuttle investigations through a media blackout.
The Zim Morning Post understands that sometime in April, 1 800 litres of fuel was ‘donated’ by Zinara to members of the media who were closing in on them exposing the rot at the parastatal.
Criminal Investigations Department (CID) anti-corruption department last week swooped on the boss, Taranhike who had been implicated in the audit report before they handed him over to ZACC to finalise investigations.
In turn, ZACC has now handed over his docket to the National Prosecuting Authority for prosecution which will see him appearing before a magistrate to answer to the charges being levelled against him.
In terms of the law, a peace officer refers to any worker of the State, county, or a municipality, a Sheriff or other public law enforcement agency, whose duties include arrests, searches and seizures, execution of criminal and civil warrants, and is responsible for the prevention or detection of crime or for the enforcement of law or orders among other duties and ZACC now falls under this category.
Further, the Commission has power to direct the Commissioner-General of police to investigate cases of suspected corruption, refer to the Prosecutor-General matters for prosecution like they are now doing with Taranhike, as well as to require assistance from members of the police.