Deputy Minister’s Extravagant Purchase Raises Questions About the Accountability of Public Officials

The Lab was surprised to read about Zimbabwe’s Deputy Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts, and Recreation Tinomudaishe Machakaire importing a Rolls Royce Phantom worth US$770 000 from London, United Kingdom in July 2021. The incident has increased concern about Zimbabwean politicians and Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) corruptly amassing wealth in Zimbabwe and laundering the money by purchasing expensive cars overseas. Machakaire’s extravagant purchase is at a time when looting of the Zimbabwean state has been a hot topic following revelations of the capture of the Zimbabwean state by business people with offshore business networks including Billy Rautenbach and Kudakwashe Tagwirei. Incidentally, the media has reported that Deputy Minister Machakaire is a close associate of Tagwirei.

Machakaire was named by the ZANU PF Youth League in a list of people engaged in corruption in 2019, although no evidence of the corruption was provided. That same year, Machakaire was at the center of a corruption investigation over unpaid duty for 165 vehicles that were used in the ZANU PF 2018 elections campaign. The investigation was reportedly terminated by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) through the influence of senior politicians.

Notwithstanding the source of Machakaire’s funding to purchase the Rolls Royce Phantom, the issue raises concern about Zimbabwe’s lack of systemic mechanisms to ensure that public officials conduct themselves with integrity and are held accountable. While parliamentarians, including ministers, are said to have declared their assets to parliament in 2020, Zimbabwe still lacks a holistic system of ensuring integrity among senior public officials. A holistic system could include the declaration of assets and interests and the setting up of a publicly available asset register to enable citizens and civil society actors to hold public officials accountable. This could be augmented by periodic lifestyle audits of senior officials and background checks on purchases and/or imports exceeding a certain threshold. While this may in essence not promote integrity, it would serve as a deterrent, putting a cost on lack of probity and corruption and empowering citizens and civil society to hold leaders accountable.

Source: Accountability Lab Zimbabwe

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