HARARE (Reuters) – The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) on Monday detained and charged a cabinet minister and long-time ally of President Emmerson Mnangagwa for abuse of office alleged to have cost the government $3.7 million, the second high-profile graft case this year.
Joram Gumbo, a minister in the presidency, was arrested on suspicion of directing a government-owned airline formed in 2017 to use a property owned by his relative as its headquarters, according to a charge sheet seen by Reuters.
Gumbo, who was transport minister at the time, is also accused of abusing his position by forcing the re-appointment of the head of a state-owned company after the official was found guilty of corruption and fired by a tribunal. ZACC said the government had suffered total losses to the tune of $3.7 million.
Gumbo was not available to comment.
His arrest comes as critics accuse the president of lacking the drive to carry out the political reforms needed to help Zimbabwe recover from its worst economic crisis in a decade.
The ZACC, which Mnangagwa appointed in July, says it is on a drive to bring corrupt officials to account. In July, tourism minister Prisca Mupfumiraa was charged with corruptly misusing $95 million from the state pension fund.
When Mnangagwa took over as leader after the late Robert Mugabe was ousted in 2017, he promised to stamp out the graft that had become endemic under his predecessor.
Although some Mugabe-era ministers have been arrested for corruption, they are free on bail while their cases are stuck in courts, frustrating citizens who feel that officials can use their influence to escape punishment.
Gumbo is due to appear in court on Tuesday, a ZACC official said.
Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Tim Cocks and Kevin Liffey