Zimbabwe’s new president has issued a three-month ultimatum for the return of funds siphoned out of the country by individuals and corporations, as he moves to stem graft and revive the moribund economy.
“The government of Zimbabwe is gazetting a three-month moratorium within which those involved in the malpractice can bring back the funds and assets, with no questions being asked or charges preferred against them,” Emmerson Mnangagwa said in a statement.
The amnesty period will run from December 1.
“Upon expiry of the three-month window, the government will proceed to effect arrest of all those who would not have complied with this directive and will ensure that they are prosecuted in terms of the country’s laws,” he said.
Mr Mnangagwa, who took over from long ruling Robert Mugabe last week after a military intervention, said the operation had discovered that huge funds were illegally externalised. The military operation which saw tanks rolling down the street and culminated in Mugabe’s resignation, helped unearth “cases where huge sums of money and other assets were illegally externalised by certain individuals and corporates,” he said.
“Such malpractices constitute a very serious economic crime against the people of Zimbabwe which the government of Zimbabwe will never condone.”
Zimbabwe is facing a perennial liquidity crunch which has worsened in recent months leaving banks with little or no cash.
Mr Mnangagwa, 75, was sworn-in last Friday vowing to fight corruption, protect foreign investment and create jobs to help re-build the troubled economy.
Meanwhile, Mr Mnangagwa has dissolved the cabinet of his predecessor Robert Mugabe a senior government official said yesterday.
Mnangagwa “is in the process of putting together a new team of cabinet ministers,” Misheck Sibanda, the chief secretary to the president and cabinet said in a statement. Mr Sibanda added that Mr Mnangagwa has appointed Patrick Chinamasa as acting finance minister and Mr Simbarashe Mumbengegwi as acting top diplomat “to allow uninterrupted services in critical ministries of government.”
The statement did not indicate when Mr Mnangagwa will announce his new cabinet.
Mr Mnangagwa took power following dramatic events in the southern African country after the military took over saying they wanted to arrest criminals in government around 93-year-old Mugabe.
His tenure withstood repeated claims of hanging on to power through brutal repression of dissent, election rigging and corruption, until concerted pressure from the military finally forced to quit.
Now the new president has vowed sweeping changes in government and new policies to attract investment and revive the ailing economy.
At the same time, Zimbabwe has bestowed a new honour on Mugabe, who had ruled the country since independence from Britain in 1980, by declaring his birthday, February 21, a public holiday, a state newspaper reported Monday.
“It is hereby declared that February 21 of every year henceforth shall be a public holiday to be known as the Robert Mugabe National Youth Day,” The Herald newspaper reported, citing a government gazette.
The move follows intense lobbying by the ruling Zanu-PF party’s youth league and came weeks after the country’s biggest airport was renamed after the veteran politician who ruled Zimbabwe for nearly 40 years.