Zimbabwe: Mupfumira Seeks to Attend Seminar

20 October 2021

Former Minister Prisca Mupfumira, who is jointly charged with Barnabas Matongera on corruption-related charges, yesterday asked to be excused from court on Monday to allow her to attend a pre-budget seminar in Victoria Falls set for Friday to Monday.

Mupfumira is a senator and sits on the Parliamentary thematic committee on human rights and sustainable development goals and so says she needs to attend the seminar.

Together with Matongera, Mupfumira is alleged to have fast-tracked the construction of low income houses in Gweru without NSSA board approval. Through lawyer Mr Admire Rubaya, Mupfumira told court that she would be travelling to the pre-budget seminar at the invitation of the Clerk of Parliament. But there is a potential clash on Monday as she must attend court for her trial which could take place at any time from Monday to Wednesday depending on progress of the continuous roll.

Mr Rubaya told the court that Mupfumira was aware that court business takes precedence, but her respect for the court prompted her to make the application before travelling to Victoria Falls for the seminar. He said Parliament business forms part of her employment and the trial proceedings should not militate against her livelihood.

"We appreciate that this matter be finalised but we are saying it is only one day we are asking not to attend court," he said.

The State, led by Mr Whisper Mabhaudhi and Mr Loveit Masuku, opposed Mupfumira's application saying there was little progress in the trial.

"This trial commenced on May 5 with Francis Chihota giving evidence and he is still on the witness stand. The witness was warned to appear on October 25 for trial. The court acknowledged that he has been attending court on a number of times. On July 23, this matter was set for trial and could not kick-off because of accused's parliamentary business in South Africa where she was representing Zimbabwe.

"If that precedent is allowed to be set, then these courts will come to a halt. Trials should be within a reasonable time and it is six months now with one witness," said Mr Mabhaudhi.

Mr Mabhaudhi said the State was aware of Mupfumira's commitment to serve the nation, but there was a need to finalise her case.

He said the case was of a high profile nature and attracts public scrutiny. "This matter should be dealt with and disposed of and let them deal with their lives," he said.

Harare regional magistrate Mr Ngoni Nduna said he was working on the ruling during the course of the week and should be ready by end of this week.

Mr Nduna asked Mr Rubaya to check with the Clerk of Court for the ruling.

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