Zimbabwe: Judgment Reserved On Mupfumira Application

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22 February 2020

The High Court has reserved judgment on an application by former Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira for a review of a magistrate's dismissal of her original application to have her three charges arising from the purchase of a car put aside on legal grounds, as her actions did not constitute an offence.

Justices Pisirayi Kwenda and Benjamin Chikowero heard the application on Wednesday with Messrs Zivanai Makwanya and Sylvester Hashiti appearing for Mapfumira and Mr Edmore Makoto for the State.

Mupfumira is jointly charged with Ngoni Masoka, the former Secretary for Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.

When her trial was supposed to start early this month at the Harare Magistrates Courts, the former minister took exception to the charges and applied to have them set aside.

But acting chief magistrate Mr Munamato Mutevedzi dismissed her application and ordered the trail to start.

This was despite the fact that she had asked for a postponement of the trial arguing that she had made an urgent application for a stay of proceedings before the High Court. Her application for the delay was upheld by the High Court and now she is waiting to see if her second application to the High Court, effectively for dismissal of the charges, will succeed.

Mupfumira sought review on the grounds that Mr Mutevedzi made his ruling when he did not have all the documents and therefore he could not make a valid decision.

She said the ruling was made without reference to particulars which had been supplied by the prosecution, but were not placed on the court's record.

She maintains her actions over the purchase of a car did not constitute an offence and raised a number of technical issues concerning amendments to the charges.

"It simply does not make sense for the prosecution to allege that Masoka was not entitled to undertake the procurement of the motor vehicle in issue.

"There cannot be abuse of duty as a public officer when one acted within the scope of their duties.

"An essential element of the charge, according to the State papers is therefore missing," she said.

On the second charge, that the transaction was not supposedly disclosed to the Government, is not defined and is vague and confusing as the State failed to define the role of the Central Mechanical Equipment Department, she argues.

In the third count, she said there were contradictions since it was alleged that Mupfumira authorised the expenditure yet within the outline it stated that Alexandria Bwerinofa authorised the same expenditure

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