23 March 2019

Zimbabwe: Chivayo's Short Lived Freedom - Acquittal Set to Be Challenged

Businessman Wicknell Chivayo's freedom could turn out to be short-lived after the prosecution indicated it would lodge an appeal against his acquittal by High Court Judge Justice Owen Tagu.

Justice Tagu in his ruling argued Chivayo and his company Intrateck Zimbabwe had no criminal case to answer but the issue was a civil matter warning his prosecution could scare investors from Zimbabwe.

But head of the presidential anti-corruption unit Thabani Mpofu was seething with anger last night describing the High Court decision as unprecedented "given the relief Chivayo had sought."

"To that end, the State has already commenced the process to note an appeal against the decision of the High Court with the view to lodging the relevant papers before end of business today (Friday)," he said.

Chivayo's trial opened last month, with a State witness nailing the businessman. The trial was expected to commence late this month.

Mpofu argued the prosecution was not accorded a chance to lead evidence against Chivayo and is now seeking the intervention of a superior court to remedy the situation.

"For the avoidance of doubt, the State has collected unassailable evidence against Wicknell Chivayo in both the current case in question and the case of bribery involving the then chairman of ZPC," said Mpofu.

"The State's position against Chivayo was vindicated by Justice Musakwa of the High Court who found in December that Chivayo had a case to answer in the same case he obtained the latest relief.

"It is the duty of the State, not only to protect public funds from the abuse that was occasioned in this instance, but to ensure that those involved in cases of misuse of public funds are fully prosecuted in the courts."

It is believed that senior Zanu PF officials benefitted from Chivayo's loot and the net could also be closing in on them.

Chivayo and his company were charged with fraud involving US$5.6 million related to the botched Gwanda Solar Project in a murky deal that reportedly involved senior politicians in the ruling Zanu PF party.

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