Tomana is after us: Mtetwa

via Tomana is after us: Mtetwa | The Financial Gazette by Violet Chipunza 15 May 2014

PROMINENT lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa has accused Prosecutor General, Johannes Tomana, of hounding human rights defenders. Tomana’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is currently preparing a fresh legal battle against Mtetwa and has filed an application in the High Court seeking leave to appeal the acquittal handed to the human rights lawyer last November following an arrest earlier in the year.

In March last year, Mtetwa was arrested and charged with contravening the Criminal Law and Codification Act. This followed an altercation with police who were searching the home of a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) official, one of Mtetwa’s clients. Mtetwa was acquitted by Harare provincial magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa in November, who said the NPA had no case against her.

The State had alleged that Mtetwa had shouted at the police officers to “stop whatever you are doing, it’s unconstitutional, illegal and undemocratic.” It was further claimed that Mtetwa had called the police “confused cockroaches” and told them that “you are President Robert Mugabe’s dogs.” The State had argued that the utterances hindered the police officers from carrying out their duties.

But in an interview with the Financial Gazette, Mtetwa, said there appeared to be a concerted push from Tomana’s office to arrest human rights lawyers. “I wouldn’t say that Tomana has anything against me personally, but against a certain class of persons like me. He has something against human rights defenders,” said Mtetwa.

“What is very worrying is that where there is a case involving his colleagues in (ZANU-PF) he has not taken those up. There is the case with Jane Mutasa and he appears to be protecting her right to the end.”

She was referring to a case whereby the NPA has refused to prosecute empowerment icon, Mutasa and her three alleged accomplices in a high profile case of company fraud.  Mutasa who is a former board chairperson of Telecel Zimbabwe is accused of defrauding the company of US$750 000 via the sale of fraudulently acquired starter SIM-packs. She was jointly charged with her personal assistant Caroline Gwinyai, Telecel’s regional sales manager Charles Mapurisa and commercial director Naquib Omar.

Tomana’s office is citing lack of evidence as its main reason for not prosecuting and has also moved to block the complainant, Telecel Zimbabwe from proceeding with a private prosecution of the matter.  In the current case, it is understood that Mtetwa will oppose the NPA’s application, arguing that Tomana has overstepped his powers and it was now up to the courts to rein him in.

“It is strange, but I am not surprised at this fresh onslaught. It just goes to show how dysfunctional that office (Prosecutor-General) is. A similar matter is pending in Alec Muchadehama’s case…you can therefore see that for the Prosecutor-General’s office, if they don’t get a conviction, they will not rest,” she added.  Muchadehama, a crusading human rights lawyer, had been on trial for contempt of court and was acquitted in December 2009 at the close of the State case as the prosecutors failed to prove the essential elements of the crime.

He, along with a co-accused, had been on trial since June 2009 for allegedly facilitating the illegal release from Chikurubi Maximum Prison of two MDC-T officials and a freelance photo-journalist. Tomana appealed against the acquittal of Muchadehama, eight months after his discharge. The attempt to once again put Muchadehama on trial has also drawn the ire of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

In response, Tomana refuted the allegations and told the Financial Gazette that he has no scores to settle with human rights lawyers in the country. He said by discussing her case with the media and playing victim, Mtetwa was trying to sub-judice the case.

“It is a matter that is before the courts and we have expressed our position and given the courts a chance to relook at the matter. Why would anyone say we are hounding them? We are enforcing the law and doing our job,” Tomana said.

“How do I even hound someone when I am not the one arresting and doing the investigations? Law enforcement is not done for any individuals, but for maintaining law and order in the country”.

Meanwhile, Mtetwa has added her voice to the goings on in the MDC-T by expressing disappointment at the party’s failure to keep itself together. Mtetwa described as “sad” the unfolding events in the MDC-T that have degenerated into name calling, asset seizures and have now culminated into a pending legal matter.

“It’s really sad, it is so sad. Why do they have to go to court in order to settle these things? Did they go to court when they were forming their party back in 1999?” said Mtetwa.

“I am p*#-*d off that I spent 15 years of my life defending these people only for them to turn around and do something like this.”

Mtetwa is one of those lawyers who have represented the MDC-T in various battles over the course of its 15-year existence. The party has splintered into two groups — one led by party president, Morgan Tsvangirai and the other by secretary-general, Tendai Biti. The two factions are now set to take their fight to the courthouse after the Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda, said that he had no responsibility to adjudicate in the fight between the factions which are battling for legitimacy.

The Tsvangirai-led faction is pushing for the recall of Biti and 10 other legislators it claims have ceased acting on behalf of the MDC-T’s interests, but have formed their own separate party.  The Biti faction has taken the moral high ground and insists that its decision last month to suspend Tsvangirai and six other top officials was meant to save the party from imploding after it had lost its moral compass under the watch of Tsvangirai, veering off towards violence, indiscriminate suspensions and dictatorship.

Each faction has welcomed Mudenda’s ruling, which was in fact expected by legal experts as they posited that Mudenda was unlikely to place himself in the firing line by having to pick between the two sides, a move which would have opened him up to criticism.

Maxwell Saungweme, a political commentator and scholar from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, said the two factions of the MDC-T had become a disgrace to the voters who once held high hopes that they would unseat President Robert Mugabe from power.

“You could compromise to share government with President Mugabe, your major enemy, because there was money to be made. But you cannot compromise and negotiate with each other, find each other and solve internal issues….shame.”



  • comment-avatar

    The Justice system in Zimbabwe is the most repressive arm of the government. Minister, judges, attorney general, prosecutor general – all there for the express purpose of restricting democratic space. Justice is not part of it.

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    gwabu 9 years ago

    people and the newspapers are erroneously claiming there is a split in the mdc-t party. its misleading.

    Biti and company are no longer part of the mdc and were fired/dismissed. if you fire a member of an organisation does that result in a split of the organisation. the kunonga case comes into mind.

    biti has not even formed a party. there is no need to go to court on the issue of recalling of the mps. biti being out of mdc-t how does he even argue his case when the two facts are taken into consideration i.e. being out of mdc-t and having no registered party. remember biti is not contesting his dismissal from the mdc-t party.

    mdc-t should take medenda to court for refusing to obey their (mdc-t) instruction to recall biti and company from parliament. mdc-t should not waste time trying to argue the legality of bitis submissions to parliament. bitis submission is illegal.

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      publicprotector 9 years ago

      @gwabu – you should refrain from commenting on things you clearly don’t understand.
      Biti won a seat in his area be as it may on an MDC ticket, he still remains a politician who could stand as an independent – you have heard of them haven’t you, they don’t need a party just stand on their own. Just say you don’t understand it saves embarrassment.
      The only time it would matter is where he was the PRESIDENT elected as such by his party

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    Cde Hondo 9 years ago

    Well said Maxwell Saungweme, it’s amazing to think that the same people who compromised and joined their major enemy, Zanu pf, can’t find each other now. It’s such a sad reality.

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    Gomogranny 9 years ago

    Oh this MDC is just a joke. SPLIT down every possible way…so ridiculous they cannot sit around a table and agree on ONE GOAL AND ONE GOAL ONLY……”Unity until we deliver the people from the jaws of ZANU “. UNITY was and always will be the key to ridding ourselves of the cancer of greed and avarice that is the hallmark of politicians since 1985. Incapable of the maturity and unselfishness required for such UNITY every step of the way – the MDC has failed the nation. Beatrice is right to express her total disappointment in the lot of them.

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    Petal 9 years ago

    “It’s really sad, it is so sad. Why do they have to go to court in order to settle these things? Did they go to court when they were forming their party back in 1999?” said Mtetwa.”

    How sick and despicable these people are- only there for themselves -Beatrice you are right to speak your mind

    “Maxwell Saungweme, a political commentator and scholar from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, said the two factions of the MDC-T had become a disgrace to the voters who once held high hopes that they would unseat President Robert Mugabe from power.

    “You could compromise to share government with President Mugabe, your major enemy, because there was money to be made. But you cannot compromise and negotiate with each other, find each other Maxwell and solve internal issues….shame” CONTINUE POURING SCORN ON THEM SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME

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    jobolinko 9 years ago

    Tsvangirai never said he wants to settle this in court,Biti said it, and the speaker said they should go to court if they like,life goes on we wait for congress ,Biti is an idiot he formed his party that s all.

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    Petal 9 years ago

    The MPS are getting posh cars
    ordinary people are going hungry
    how many times has Bob flown back and forth -s omany that is should be QUESTIONED BUT NO ONE IS GIVING A TOSS shame shame shame shame on the other parties
    the opposition including OTHER PARTIES should be blowing their vuvuzelas loud when this is happening and questioning they are just watching and squabbling

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    I really think Beatrice is a very brave woman and a competent attorney,who unlike many has refused to be corrupted. Unfortunately, like many she became emotionally attached to politicians, some of whom she has successfully defended in the court of law. I am sure when she decided to defend them because she was convinced that the charges they faced were trumped up. However, she also fell victim of what I have been decrying for a while,not to become an appendage to politicians because politicians never fail to disappoint.

    I feel for her because she is a very able and intelligent woman, but her reaction to the MDC’s confused state of affairs, betrays the political trap we can easily fall into, becoming emotionally attached to political players. We should never like politicians to the extent of surrendering our objective sense of holding politicians accountable. Politicians are corrupt. They are selfish. They are users. To stop them from the obvious, we all need to guard against being swept by charisma and cheap promises, and remain steadfast in holding them accountable. We can do this by realising that power is in our hands as long as we hold these office holders accountable and keeping our political emotions and affiliation in check.

    That Tsvangirai et al are fighting it out should not, in my humble opinion, lead us to tear each other apart both literally and metaphorically. No politician deserves that kind of respect or support. The day we wake up to this truism is the day we will reclaim our power back and be able to participate positively to rebuilding our country. I say to Beatrice don’t stop the good work, but always resist the emotional attachment that may accompany your work, especially when you are dealing with politicians. They are not worth your obviously good heart.

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    And congratulations Beatrice for the Georgia Tech Ivan Allen Award for your stand and fight for the human rights