By Dr Masimba Mavaza
The past few months Zimbabwe has seen a relented attack of those fighting corruption. Of interest was the attack of Thabani Vusa Mpofu the director of the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (SACU) by Hopwell Chin’ono and Honourable Themba Mliswa.
Chin’ono, a journalist who was arrested for inciting violence and breaking COVID-19 restriction rules, took to Twitter attacking Mpofu. He accused him of engineering his arrest and denying him bail. While he was at it Mliswa was attacking Mpofu from another angle, accusing him of being corrupt.
Why is Mpofu in the eye of the storm and why is an MP and a journalist the attacking him?
Who is Thabani V Mpofu?
Thabani is not the same person as the AdvocateThabani Mpofu. The two have same first names and surnames and are in the same profession.
Thabani Vusa Mpofu is a lawyer in the prosecution department and director of the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (SACU). He was educated at Ellis Robins High School in Harare. After his college education he became a Public Prosecutor where he remained for over 10 years. With this experience he became a Legal Consultant and owned his own Company called Logford Consultants. Thabani then changed his career path by becoming the General Manager of a trucking business called Easy Transport. In 2009 he joined the Government of National Unity at the office of the Prime Minister for resurgent development, where he continued for 5 years. In August 2014 he joined Meikles Limited as the Company Secretary/Legal Advisor after consulting for the Group for several months.
Thabani is a fearless figure who is passionate about his work. He single handedly confronted Chihuri and investigated him for corruption. This earned him an arrest and time in remand prison. He is a man who frowns on corruption, he is very humble and indeed a man who believes in due process.
With this background the utterances of Chin’ono and the unsubstantiated allegations by Themba Mliswa are a nuisance and unreasonable irresponsible attacks on a man who is out to fight corruption.
A fight against corruption has serious challenges. Those who have something to hide seek to spoil the foot soldiers in the war against corruption. The menace of fraud and corruption in nation building cannot be over emphasized. Fraud and corruption are gargantuan twin brothers that have limited the growth and infrastructure of many nations and led many firms to the road of bankruptcy. It is true that financial irregularity is a severe problem of concern globally. It is the major concern to developing nations, an endemic that has become a normal way of life. There is no globally accepted definition of corruption, but it is defined by Transparency International as ‘the abuse of entrusted power for personal gain’. Herbert Kawadza a Law Lecturer in South Africa describe corruption as the misuse of entrusted power for private benefit and includes bribes, cronyism and nepotism, political donations, kickbacks and artificial pricing and fraud of all kinds.
Williams (2005) defines corrupt practice as any immoral, illegal and unethical act and include cheating, lying, fraud etc. Corruption involves theft or misuse of asset, improper use of influence in a transaction for own benefit and falsification of financial statements, while necessary corruption occurs to get things done, in other words, to obtain a legally entitled service; facilitation payments fall under this category of corruption.
Thabani Mpofu is the sign of political will in combating corruption in Zimbabwe. The prevention of corruption in the governments of developing countries must address the corruption of the institutions identified by the citizenry as being the most corrupt. These are political parties, the police, and the judicial system. So Mpofu and his department are special prosecutors but they have no arresting powers. So, it is not possible for Thabani Mpofu to be behind the arrest of his name sake and Chin’ono and Ngarivhume. Citing Mpofu in the arrests is malicious and mischievous.
Chin’ono is simply being malicious and irresponsible and trying to get a scapegoat for his crimes. It was not Thabani Vusa Mpofu who asked Chin’ono and Ngarivhume to commit their crimes. Chin’ono’s crimes have nothing to do with Thabani’s mandate, so bringing his name in his doomed tweets shows lack of professionalism.
The tweets and statements which are being made by Mliswa and Chin’ono against Mpofu are meant to incite and set Thabani against the public. Naming and trying to shame the director of SACU is a crime. If they are to be arrested, they will show victimisation cards. The reasons why citizens tolerate corruption in government and public service institutions are many, including fear, the belief that nothing can be done to change the system, and, for some, self-interest, since they benefit from the corruption.
Thabani Vusa Mpofu and many other non-government organizations have had some success in exposing corruption of government officials and helping the justice agencies bring the corrupt officials to justice. This is not personal but duty calls.
Thabani Mpofu is a man who executes his duties without fear or favour. He is doing what the president commanded and the utterances of Mliswa and Chin’ono show a war by the corrupt to destabilise the war against corruption.
Vilifying officers must not be condoned, it must be condemned. This is fighting the policy, we need to intensify the war against corruption. We do not need to be convinced of the negative impact of corruption, which obstructs economic growth and development, erodes public confidence, legitimacy and transparency and hinders the making of fair and effective laws, as well as their administration, enforcement and adjudication, and therefore stress the importance of the rule of law as an essential element in addressing and preventing corruption, including through strengthening cooperation among States concerning criminal matters.
Fighting officers who are in the fore front to eradicate corruption is a serious hindrance to this war. Corruption is a phenomenon that affects all countries. No State is immune to it, regardless of its level of economic or social development.
Corruption is a phenomenon that affects everyone in society. Whether you represent a small or big business or work in public service, whether you are an employer or self-employed, poor or rich, you will be affected by corruption, directly or indirectly, since the costs of corruption are suffered by society as a whole. All parts of society, therefore, have an interest in containing corruption, and must share the responsibility. Corruption must never be perceived as an inalterable fact of life. We all can, and should, have our share in enhancing a culture of transparency, integrity and accountability. We all need to frown at corruption with the same force we should frown at the likes of Chin’ono and Mliswa who have made it their business to fight those fighting corruption.
Corruption undermines human development and severely impacts and derails a country’s progress. By diverting public resources to private profits and reducing access to public services, corruption runs counter to the basic interests and needs of every society and poses a threat to economic development and social stability. Corruption weakens economic growth. Since it distorts economic decision-making, it also deters investments and undermines competitiveness. Anti-corruption is now firmly established as one of the principles of Zimbabwe’s open for business motto. Thabani Mpofu plays a crucial role as an essential part in the fight against corruption. Corruption has a negative effect on the functioning of democratic institutions. It is a threat to governance and the stability of young and often still fragile democracies. Corruption undermines the legitimacy of government and democratic values, and it weakens the State as it undermines its credibility and damages people’s trust in State institutions. Fighting corruption, therefore, needs to go hand in hand with strengthening the rule of law and good governance, and in building strong institutions which, in turn, are the foundation for sustainable development. SACU now forms the basis for our national efforts to combat corruption.
First and foremost, corruption requires prevention. Therefore, an entire chapter of ANTI CORRUPTION ACT is dedicated to prevention, with measures directed at both the public and private sectors. With regard to criminalization, it calls attention to basic forms of corruption such as bribery and embezzlement of public funds; trading in influence and the concealment and laundering of the proceeds of corruption; and offences committed in support of corruption, such as money-laundering and the obstruction of justice and abuse of office. As already mentioned, corruption is a transnational problem. Therefore, an important part of fighting corruption is cooperation between the people and the government departments set to fight corruption.
Maintaining a strong rule of law does not necessarily come automatically. It is an everyday challenge. We are all called upon every day to uphold the rule of law when carrying out our duties. This is not always easy, especially in difficult economic times. So, it is not good for Chin’ono and Mliswa to demonise Themba Vusa Mpofu to divert attention. In his fight for Justice, Mpofu will face the criminals head-on and these utterances will not stop him from fighting corruption.