Fraud at Zimbabwe’s Deeds Office: Priscilla Mushonga Enriched With Dead Man’s Signature
18 February 2024
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Comprehensive Reforms Underway at Deeds Office Amid Corruption Scandal Involving Ambassador Priscilla Mushonga.

Priscilla Mushonga

By Farai D Hove |In a significant development aimed at eradicating corruption within the Department of Deeds, Companies, and Intellectual Property, State Media has revealed a sweeping overhaul following numerous complaints of malpractice. The urgency of these reforms has been underscored by a startling case involving Ambassador Priscilla Mushonga, who is accused of unlawfully benefiting from her late estranged husband’s estate through the use of a dubious document.

Ambassador Mushonga has come under scrutiny after it emerged that she acquired assets worth USD 60,000 from her late husband, Dr. Mushonga’s estate, using a document allegedly signed by him three days posthumously. This revelation has raised serious questions about the integrity of operations within the Deeds Office, highlighting a glaring loophole in the system that allowed for such an impossibility, where a deceased individual’s signature appeared on a legal document.

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the Police Anti-Corruption Unit are currently investigating this and other complaints concerning the misconduct of officials at the Deeds Office. Mrs. Vimbai Nyemba, the Permanent Secretary of the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ministry, confirmed the government’s resolve in addressing these issues, stating, “Investigations have been initiated into the records and information unit following allegations of corrupt and fraudulent activities.”

In light of the ambassador’s case and other similar incidents, the government has announced a series of measures designed to reform the department. These include staff rotations to prevent collusion, random staff searches, collaborations for ID authentication, and stricter client interviewing procedures for document replacement. These reforms aim to close the gaps exploited by those engaging in fraudulent activities, ensuring transparency and accountability within the department.

Mrs. Nyemba emphasized the department’s commitment to integrity, “These steps are intended to restore public trust and ensure the prevention of any further fraudulent or corrupt activities within the department.”

The scandal involving Ambassador Mushonga not only highlights the need for tighter controls but also puts the spotlight on the broader implications for Zimbabwe’s standing in the global financial community. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has previously raised concerns over the department’s record-keeping practices, which could potentially compromise the country’s listing as a low-risk country for money laundering and financing of terrorism.

As the government moves forward with these critical reforms, the case of Ambassador Mushonga serves as a stark reminder of the challenges ahead. With a firm commitment to reform and a series of comprehensive measures in place, there is hope for a reformed Deeds Office that operates with the highest standards of integrity and professionalism. The nation watches closely as these efforts to cleanse the department of corruption unfold, anticipating a future where such egregious breaches of trust are a thing of the past.