Justice delayed is justice denied

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THERE is always the temptation to dismiss the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) as a toothless bulldog, since seldom do we hear of people being convicted of this heinous crime in our courts.

And yet we hear of many people whose names are submitted to  the courts for suspected corrupt offences by ZACC.

But rarely do we hear of their conviction or otherwise.

ZACC must have felt exonerated by Justice Tawanda Chitapi who recently bemoaned delays in completing high profile cases, when rejecting an application to stop a prosecution.

Corruption is a cancer in our society.

Together with the illegal sanctions, it is regarded as one of the major causes crippling our economy. That is why we are always eager to hear corruption culprits being served with deterrent jail terms.

But then, according to Justice Chitapi, there is something amiss in the judicial process which sees potential criminals basking outside jail bars.

This is unacceptable.

A way, above board, should be found to fast-track court processes  in cases involving corruption. All we are saying is, cases of corruption should be concluded soon after the public is made aware of the allegations.

Meanwhile, before then, ZACC will remain the unfortunate scapegoat of the delayed judgments.

And yet ZACC does not pass judgments.

As the present ZACC chairperson, Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo, once remarked: “ZACC only investigates matters. 

So people have got this impression that it is ZACC which prosecutes the matters. ZACC’s duties end with investigations.”

Mind you, this is a statement from a High Court Judge who also once served as Director of Public Prosecution in the Attorney General’s office

This means results of her investigations are likely to stand the rigours of prosecution in court.

According to Justice Chitapi, delays will tend to make people conclude that courts and the Prosecutor-General’s office is reluctant to speedily resolve high profile cases.

Note that ZACC is already out at this stage

“Courts must expedite criminal trials of high-profile corruption cases, as delays have the potential to put the judiciary and criminal justice system into disrepute,” said Justice Chitapi.

Let’s look at a few cases.

Exiled former Cabinet ministers Saviour Kasukuwere and Walter Mzembi, who are hibernating in South Africa, have big cases alleging criminal abuse of office. 

Kasukuwere, who has a 50-bedroomed house with three floors, is said to have swindled the Government of billions through illegal sale of State land. 

How he glided out when he once ventured back in the country, only God knows.

Mzembi who had been accused by ZACC of stealing millions of dollars from loans and the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe, duped the courts by pretending to be dying of cancer.

As we speak, an apparently very fit Mzembi is even participating in forming a political party while in SA.

But this is not all.

The first high-profile corruption case investigated by the Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo-led ZACC was that of former Cabinet minister Prisca Mupfumira.

She was alleged to have amassed over US$95 million dollars through criminal abuse of office. She briefly appeared before the courts last year.

And it shouldn’t be surprising to conclude that her file might be gathering cobwebs somewhere, together with that of another former Cabinet Minister Ignatius Chombo.

It looks like in most of these high profile cases, the accused are usually said to be having loads of ill-gotten cash.

Can our criminal justice system find a way around the cunning use of lawyers to delay justice.  

Meanwhile, ZACC must not be frustrated but resolutely forge ahead in their investigation of cases of corruption irrespective of the status of the alleged culprits.

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