ONE of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s anti-corruption special unit prosecutors, Zivanai Macharaga, has allegedly been accused of demanding a $20 000 bribe from a former Cabinet minister, who is facing charges of criminal abuse of office, to throw out the case.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
The court heard this yesterday when former Mines minister Walter Chidakwa and ex-permanent secretary Francis Gudyanga appeared in court on a criminal abuse of office charge.
While applying for postponement of the matter due to a pending Constitutional Court (ConCourt) determination on the appointment of special prosecutors, Chidakwa’s lawyer Advocate Sylvester Hashiti told the court that his client was not comfortable being prosecuted by Mnangagwa’s special prosecutors as they receives orders from the Executive.
He said his client views the matter as political persecution.
Hashiti told the court that Macharaga allegedly demanded a $20 000 bribe from a former Cabinet minister, which he alleged he would share with the magistrate to facilitate acquittal of the case.
“Your worship, we seek a postponement of this case pending determination of a ConCourt application filed by Levi Nyagura challenging the appointment of the special prosecutors. Nyagura had successfully applied for a temporary stay of trial proceedings at the High Court pending the ConCourt determination of State prosecutor Michael Chakandida’s authority to prosecute him,” Hashiti said.
Chakandida is also prosecuting Nyagura. Hashiti said the court order which stopped Chakandida from prosecuting Nyagura applies to their case since he is the same person who was barred from prosecuting corruption cases.
“Your worship, there are allegations that Zivanai Macharaga, one of the special prosecutors, demanded $20 000 from a former Cabinet minister whom I will not name in this court. It was alleged the money would be shared with the presiding magistrate,” Hashiti further said.
Hashiti said Macharaga is also conflicted in that he once appeared for the State prosecuting one of his clients, Gudyanga, who is being represented by Tafadzwa Muvhami from his law firm, Mugiya and Macharaga.
He further alleged at one time that Macharaga applied for the release of Gudyanga’s passport despite him being a State prosecutor, saying such actions raised eyebrows.
Hashiti said the Executive was interfering with the administration of corruption cases, saying one of the magistrates dealing with businessman Genius Kadungure’s fraud and money-laundering cases had received instructions to deny him bail despite initially consenting to it.
He also cited the (Tendai) Biti versus the State case, saying the MDC deputy chairperson’s trial magistrate Gloria Takundwa wrote to the High Court seeking review of her decision due to pressure from the Executive.
Chidakwa, who appeared before another magistrate Nyasha Vhitorini said it was not provided in law to assign the trial matter to another magistrate.
“Your worship, in the mind of the accused person, all Harare magistrates and prosecutors appointed to deal with these cases are influenced to deny him his rights.
Initially, this case was referred to the trial magistrate Estere Chivasa by magistrate Josephine Sande and it is not provided in law to transfer the same matter to another magistrate during the trial. The transfer can only be done upon death or retirement of the presiding magistrate or else they will be a trial de novo,” Hashiti further said.
Hashiti submitted a “mysterious” text message which was only shown to the court and prosecutor, saying it was a security threat.
The text messages forced the court to retreat into the magistrate’s chambers on two occasions.
Chidakwa, who was seen shaking his head and seemed reluctant to hand over his mobile phone to the court for review of the text message, only relaxed after his lawyer asked the court not to record the said text message as evidence.
In his ruling dismissing recusal application, Vhitorini said he would deal with the matter impartially and said changing of the magistrates is only administrative.
Vhitorini then postponed the matter to January 4 pending the High Court review of his decision to refuse recusal.