Crime and Courts

Former Minister Supa Mandiwanzira’s fight for freedom continues

Former Minister Supa Mandiwanzira’s fight for freedom continues. The battle by former Information Communication Technology Minister Supa Mandiwanzira to quash the remaining charge of corruption he is facing continues with the former minister approaching the High Court to overturn a magistrate’s decision to allow the charge to stand.

Mandiwanzira is facing a charge of criminal abuse of office for allegedly seconding the personal assistant to the Minister, Tawanda Chinembiri, to the board of the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) without due process when he was ICT Minister.

Chinembiri was an employee of the Government and his position was equivalent to a Deputy Director in the Ministry. The High Court has already quashed a second charge under which Mandiwanzira allegedly engaged a South African firm, Megawatt Company, to carry out consultancy work for NetOne without due process.

Mandiwanzira contested the charge because it gave the impression that Chinembiri was not an employee of the government. On the allegations that Mandiwanzira had hired a South African company to investigate corruption at NetOne without going to tender, investigations by Megawatt unearthed overpricing of equipment by NetOne of over US$100 million.

At least US$30 million was recovered as a result of the investigations by Megawatt. It is on this basis that the then High Court Judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi dismissed the first case against Mandiwanzira.

Last month, Mandiwanzira unsuccessfully applied to challenge the remaining charge via an application for exception before regional magistrate Ms Bianca Makwande. But Ms Makwande dismissed the application when she made a finding that corruption matters should not be resolved on technicalities. Mandiwanzira argues it is a clear case of witch-hunting.

However, the ruling paved the way for the resumption of the former minister’s prosecution until Friday last week when he filed his latest application for review of the trial court proceedings.

In his High Court application, Mandiwanzira challenges the charge, which the prosecution wants to amend, two years after it failed to stick. He wants the court to review the trial magistrate’s decision arguing that her findings were irregular in view of the prosecution concession in the exception hearing that the remaining charge did not disclose an offence.

“The charges were a nullity at law in that they were predicated on a false premise,” said Mandiwanzira.

The former minister also complained over why it had taken so long to finalise the matter since his arrest two years ago. He argued that the prosecution was not keen to finalise the matter, citing the fact that at one stage it considered withdrawing the charges.

“One wonders why after two years, the State proposes to amend its charge when it is the one that indicated the allegations were helpless,” said Mandiwanzira. “Whichever way this matter is looked at, the result should be the trial court’s decision must be set aside for being irregular and actuating a constitutional violation.” The prosecution is yet to file its response.

Source – Bulawayyo24 News

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