22 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Zimrights Board Summoned By Police in Fraud Case

A representative of the ZimRights management board is to report to Harare police Wednesday, to answer questions regarding the ongoing fraud case against the organization.

The police have so far charged the ZimRights boss Okay Machisa and two others with fraud, and they are also accused of forgery in their individual capacity. But the police have now added charges against the organization itself.

One of the ZimRights board members Nunurai Jena told SW Radio Africa the organization has been summoned to Harare Central Police Station and he will report to the Law and Order Section to represent them.

It is not clear exactly what ZimRights is being accused of doing, but the police allege that the organization was involved in an illegal voter registration exercise. They are also accused of 'conspiracy to commit fraud' and publishing 'falsehoods prejudicial to the state'.

Jena said on Tuesday that they welcome the police investigations and ZimRights will cooperate, adding that the organization does not support any illegal activities.

"As a board we condemn the commission of crime in whatever form and the board disassociates itself from the alleged criminal activities and if anything ever happened in that manner, as alleged by the state, such was done outside the mandate and objectives of the organizations," Jena said.

Meanwhile, a High Court judge postponed Machisa's bail hearing on Tuesday to Thursday. ZimRights Programs Manager Cynthia Manjoro said the case could not be heard on Tuesday because the state appointed a new prosecutor, Edmore Nyazamba, "who claimed that he wanted some time to acquaint himself with the record proceedings."

The rights group said the other accused persons (chairperson for Highfields Dorcas Shereni and the organisation's Education and Programmes Officer Leo Chamahwinya) are likely to spend fourteen more days behind bars after a Harare magistrate on Monday remanded them in custody to 4 February, citing the need to give the state more time to conduct investigations. ZimRights said this was despite the defence counsel having submitted lengthy and detailed arguments warranting the release of the two.

Jena said his organization is law abiding and is waiting for the court process to be concluded and the board will carry out its own internal investigations to unearth the truth facts of the allegations at institutional level.

"Now we are appealing to the state to expedite the prosecution of this matter to conclusion rather than to make these guys to wait and wait and wait. I think it's not proper," Jena added.

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