President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has called for the arrest of ministers accused of corruption, with a warning that he would not protect anyone found wanting.
The sentiments come three weeks after the president blocked the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission from arresting Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo for allegedly abusing $450,000 from the government’s manpower development fund.
The corruption case has divided the 92-year-old leader’s government with Prof Moyo accusing Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa of pushing for his arrest.
Prof Moyo claims the corruption charges were part of a scheme by a faction linked to Mr Mnangagwa to purge rivals in the battle to succeed President Mugabe.
A senior army general on Tuesday said corruption had become a threat to national security and urged the government to stop shielding those implicated in graft cases.
“No one who breaches the law should be protected and those accused would be left to face the music,” President Mugabe told villagers near Zimbabwe’s border with Mozambique on Thursday.
“It is not good enough for one accused of improper conduct to be protected,” he added.
However, the veteran ruler said he would not be pushed by the media to act against the alleged corrupt ministers.
“We don’t want people to be accused of wrong doing when they have not done so,” he said.
“We want people to be taken to court when there is proper investigation and enough evidence.
“We want our people to defend themselves before the courts of law. If they have lawyers, let their lawyers defend them in court.”
The State media has been on the forefront with calls for Prof Moyo’s arrest, fuelling speculation that the case was rooted in the ruling party’s factionalism.
In his defence, the minister, a former government spin doctor said the money was used to fund the ruling Zanu-PF activities that included President Mugabe’s lavish 92nd birthday held in February.
Thousands of dollars were also used to bankroll First Lady Grace Mugabe’s rallies.