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Parliamentary Monitor: Issue 26
Parliamentary Monitoring Trust (Zimbabwe)
March 14, 2012

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AG: Legally stupid, morally bankrupt!

Dear Mr Johannes Tomana

We hope we find you well and will get a chance to read our humble submission with regards to your unfortunate, ill-informed and embarrassing attempts to halt investigation into the abuse of the Constituency Development Fund. We are writing this letter as concerned citizens, harbouring no ill thought not malice but feel greatly injured by your attempt to interpret the constitution in a manner that impinges on other constitutional bodies such as the Anti-Corruption Commission.

It is not within our province to see where your powers start and end, what we know is that yours is a very powerful office, warranting you the right to be an ex-officio member of cabinet. This, in our very simple and humble understanding, requires you to be sober when approaching issues. As such, there was no elements of sobriety with regards to the letter you wrote the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs, halting the arrest of defaulters of CDF. We are very polite in calling them defaulters, when calling a spade a spade we would call them fraudsters.

Your letter, in our pedestrian interpretation was meant to protect these fraudsters. You may have quoted the constitution at length, making a legal point. But there was no need. You were wading into a province which you were bound to retreat. It was not supposed to be all about the legality of the move without looking at the roles of other constitutional bodies. It is gratifying to note that the chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Danford Chirindo, did not mince his words when he announced that they would continue to investigate undeterred. “ZACC would like to reiterate unequivocally and unreservedly in terms of its mandate and powers as stated that it will continue to investigate all reports relating to any cases of corruption, theft, misappropriation, abuse of power, and other improprieties including abuse of Constituency Development Funds; whether such reports have emanated from newspapers, individuals, corporate world or intelligence gathered by its officers.

ZACC will continue to investigate all cases thoroughly, professionally without fear, favour or prejudice.” As the people of Zimbabwe, we are naturally attracted to what Chirindo is saying. Investigations should be incremental. Not the big bang approach you wanted. Your suggestions that the police should take over since it has presence throughout the country made no sense. The suggestion that all constituencies should be audited first before arrests makes n sense. That is being polite again. In other times we would have called it STUPID. It is like saying the police should only make arrests after all cases theft and robbery have been fully investigated across the country. In the meantime the robbers and thieves will be covering their tracks or fleeing.

In our case, fully auditing constituencies is trick because of lack of manpower and funds. This is what Eric Matinenga has always highlighted. We are convinced that the 65 constituencies were a sample. Something representing a whole. If 10 out 65 default, then about a sixth may have defaulted. A sixth of 210 gives us up to 35 MPs. So with such a statistic, Mr AG, do you think ZACC and Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs would have sat by, musing waiting to go through all the constituencies. This would have been a serious neglect of duty by both the Ministry and the Commission.

We are happy they have not slept on the wheel and we hope they will get to the bottom of it. We also hope that your interpretation of the constitution on this issue, which experts have described as flawed, was an error in your attempt to execute your duties, something we all do. However, the manner in which you came guns blazing, making the AG’s office omnipotent could be an attempt to protect some big fish.

Let us put this into perspective. These fraudsters, for that is what they are, misappropriated funds meant to make roads, clinics, hospitals and schools slightly better than they are. These are found not where you stay but where we the majority live. Those areas you visit with your air-conditioned all terrain vehicles. We are not saying its bad. What we are saying is that, just like you want an air conditioned vehicle, we need better education and health facilities facilities and CDF was a small but significant steps towards that direction. Then these guys decide that on top of the luxuries they enjoy, they can go on to steal from the poor. They may have their constitutional rights and they enjoy these through the courts not your deliberate misrepresentation Mr AG. It is worse than a genocide!

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