HARARE – Former Zimpapers board chairman Tommy Sithole and former Chronicle editor Geoffrey Nyarota are among a list of 133 people who have been nominated to become commissioners of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC).
Parliament’s Committee on Standing Rules and Orders (CSRO) published a list of the nominees on Tuesday, and will shortly invite objections from the public before it conducts public interviews.
At the end of the interviews, Parliament will submit a shortlist of at least 12 names to the President, from which the President will select eight commissioners before appointing the chairman in consultation with the CSRO.
The constitution requires that at least one of the commissioners be a lawyer with seven years of experience; one be an accountant with auditing capability and at least one commissioner be a criminal investigator with at least 10 years’ experience. All the commissioners must be chosen for their “integrity and their knowledge of and experience in administration or the prosecution or investigation of crime or for their general suitability for appointment.”
Mnangagwa dissolved the ZACC in January after its nine commissioners, including the chairman Job Whabira, were forced to resign under pressure from Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.
CSRO consequently invited nominations for potential commissioners, attracting a deluge of applications from lawyers, politicians and retired journalists.
Among some of the prominent nominees are former MPs Tongai Matutu, Jessie Majome, Blessing Chebundo and Gabriel Chaibva.
Nanette Silukhuni, who was a commissioner in the dissolved board, is seeking a comeback after throwing in her application along with the former Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s lawyer Tinomudaishe Chinyoka, currently facing criminal prosecution for assaulting another lawyer in a courtroom, is also on the list after failing in an earlier bid to be the country’s Prosecutor General.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Secretary Ambassador James Manzou is surprisingly among the nominees, along with former Harare Town Clerk James Mushore.
Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda said the CSRO will meet on Thursday this week to set a date for the public interviews.
ZACC is the focal point in Zimbabwe’s fight against corruption, but the last commission was criticised for doing politicians’ bidding and being corrupt.
The constitution enjoins ZACC to “combat corruption, theft, misappropriation, abuse of power and other improper conduct in the public and private sectors” as well as “promote honesty, financial discipline and transparency in the public and private sectors.”
The commission, which must operate independently, can “receive and consider complaints from the public and take such action in regard to the complaints as it considers appropriate”.
ZACC also has power to “direct the Commissioner-General of Police to investigate cases of suspected corruption and to report to the Commission on the results of any such investigation.” It can also refer matters to the National Prosecuting Authority for prosecution.
ZACC is also given a broader mandate to make recommendations to the government on measures to enhance integrity and accountability and prevent improper conduct in the public and private sectors.
ZACC’s powers of arrest have been challenged in court, but the constitution empowers the body to “recommend the arrest and secure the prosecution of persons reasonably suspected of corruption, abuse of power and other improper conduct which falls within the Commission’s jurisdiction.”
The constitution also empowers ZACC to bring to the attention of parliament “matters relating to improper conduct in the public and private sectors.”