By Andrew Kunambura
Higher and Tertiary Education minister and politburo member Jonathan Moyo has suffered a huge setback in his attempts to avoid being arrested for corruption when the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) threw out his application yesterday in which he was challenging the arresting powers of the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission (Zacc).
The full ConCourt bench ruled that Moyo had jumped the gun by rushing to the apex court when a magistrate could have dealt with the matter without any difficulties.
What this means is that Zacc can now proceed to have Moyo arrested on charges of corruption involving $400 000 which the anti-graft body had preferred on him last year before the Tsholotsho North Member of Parliament rushed to the ConCourt to challenge its powers.
“The applicant challenged the lawfulness of his arrest on the basis that the fourth respondent (Zacc) directed the third respondent (Zacc commissioner Silas Pondo) to arrest him.
“This still goes to the challenge of the lawfulness of his arrest, which can be addressed in the magistrates court,” the ConCourt said in its ruling.
“The magistrates court would have to answer the question whether the statutory provision means that Zacc can have a person arrested whom it reasonably suspects of having committed an offence falling within its jurisdiction.
“There would be no constitutional matter to attract the exercise of jurisdiction by the ConCourt.
“There is no proper legal basis on which the applicant approached the ConCourt. In the result, it is ordered that the application be and is hereby dismissed with no order as to costs,” the ConCourt further ruled.
It also ruled against Moyo’s application that the case must not proceed since Zacc had used ‘stolen’ documents to link him to the alleged crime.
“The challenge to the validity of the warrants of search and seizure in this court is also misplaced. The law relating to warrants of search and seizure is not contained in its details in the Constitution.
“The applicant correctly pointed out that the sections of the Act which govern the validity of warrants of search and seizure obtained by Zacc.
“A dispute as regards the lawfulness of or otherwise of such warrants does not require the interpretation of the Constitution, it requires the interpretation of the Act itself. It does not require the ConCourt to determine the issue,” the ConCourt said in dismissing Moyo’s application.
Moyo is facing a slew of allegations relating to corruption, which include serious fraud, money laundering and criminal abuse of office charges, as well as claims he benefited from Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) donations that involved the purchase of bicycles, which he donated to his Tsholotsho North constituency – all of which Zacc alleges was not done above board.
The anti-graft body further claims that Moyo, his deputy Godfrey Gandawa and Zimdef chief executive Frederick Mandizvidza were at the centre of multiple corrupt and fraudulent activities running into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Moyo, who is said to be a key member of a faction within Zanu PF going by the moniker Generation 40 (G40), which is bitterly opposed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe, has accused Team Lacoste (Mnangagwa faction) and key players at Zacc of waging a factional war against him.
The ruling by the ConCourt basically puts Moyo at the mercy of Zacc, which the Higher and Tertiary Education minister has persistently accused of being at the back and call of Mnangagwa.
While Zacc is supposed to be an independent commission, its critics allege certain of the Vice President’s allies, of note Goodson Nguni, are in charge of key organs in Zacc.
Whereas in the past Zacc was under the Home Affairs ministry, it is now administered under the Office of the President and Cabinet, where perceived staunch allies of Mnangagwa, among them the chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, wield enormous influence.
Crucially, there is a perception that the justice delivery system is prone to manipulation by the Executive.
As the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister, Mnangagwa has oversight over the justice delivery system hence there is concern among functionaries in the G40 faction that the ConCourt ruling has thrown Moyo into the vice president’s hands.
Recently, Mugabe revealed that the tiff between Moyo and Mnangagwa stemmed from the 2004 “Tsholotsho Declaration” that saw the latter being expelled from Zanu-PF.
The so-called Tsholotsho Declaration was an attempt to elevate Mnangagwa, who was the Zanu PF secretary for administration then, to succeed Simon Muzenda, who had died the previous year.
That failed plan saw Moyo and several other ruling party officials being either expelled or suspended from Zanu PF.
Mnangagwa survived that purge, picked up the broken pieces and launched a strong comeback in 2014 that resulted in him displacing former vice president Joice Mujuru as one of Mugabe’s two deputies.
Moyo has since declared that he will never support Mnangagwa’s perceived bid for the State and Zanu PF number one job — something Mugabe said the minister had made clear in the aftermath of the Tsholotsho Declaration.
The ConCourt ruling comes as Zanu PF succession wars have intensified in recent months.
First Lady Grace Mugabe, who has been publicly attacking Mnangagwa for his reported ambition to succeed her husband, last month stunned thousands Zanu PF supporters when she cleared Moyo of corruption charges being levelled against him Zacc.
When Zacc swooped on Moyo last year, he could not be arraigned before the magistrates’ court after he successfully approached the ConCourt seeking relief on the basis that the anti graft body had no powers to arrest and detain him.
In its preliminary ruling, the ConCourt suspended his arrest until a determination of his application challenging the constitutionality of the arrest.
The late retired Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku stayed Moyo’s prosecution pending determination of whether or not his arrest was constitutional.
Moyo was represented by advocates Lewis Uriri and Terrence Hussein.
Gandawa and Zimdef finance director Nicholas Mapute have since been placed on remand at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts. Daily News