Zimbabwe tourism minister held for suspected corruption

Prisca Mupfumira is the first senior government official to be detained by anti-fraud body since it’s overhaul in July.

Prisca Mupfumira [Screebgrab/Ministry of Tourism]
Mupfumira, a senior member of the ruling ZANU-PF party was previously labour minister and social welfare minister [File: Ministry of Environment, Tourism and hospitality]

Zimbabwe‘s minister of tourism has been held for questioning by a newly-constituted anti-corruption commission. 

According to state-owned daily The Herald, Prisca Mupfumira was detained on Thursday over the alleged disappearance of millions of dollars at the country’s pension fund when she was social welfare minister.

She is the first senior government official to be held by the commission which was overhauled by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on July 15.

“We can confirm that the minister of tourism is currently in our custody for questioning and possible due processes,” the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) said in a brief statement on Thursday. It did not give any details.

According to Zimbabwean laws, a suspect must appear in court within 48 hours after his or her arrest.

Mupfumira, a senior member of the ruling ZANU-PF party, previously oversaw the $1bn state pension fund. She was fired by former President Robert Mugabe weeks before a military-led coup that toppled him in November 2017. 

She was reappointed after Mugabe’s removal and given a new portfolio. 

In an audit report in June, the ZACC has accused several prominent officials of abuse of funds. The scandal has been labelled as the “National Social Security Authority Scandal”.

The anti-corruption commission was given the power to arrest suspects, but critics question whether it will be effective.

The opposition cast doubt on Mnangagwa’s decision to appoint High Court Judge Loice Matanda-Moyo as the commission’s chair, alleging a potential conflict of interest because she is married to Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo, the retired army general who announced the coup against Mugabe.

Additional reporting by Chris Muronzi in Harare.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies