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Minister in trouble for attending Thomas Mapfumo concert

By Maggie Mzumara

HARARE – Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Fortune Chasi’s fortunes are deteriorating further amidst revelations that he could be censured for being absent without official leave, when earlier in the year he went to a Thomas Mapfumo concert in South Africa, without Cabinet approval.

Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Fortune Chasi
Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Fortune Chasi

The Financial Gazette understands that in April this year, Chasi unassumingly crossed the Limpopo River into neighbouring South Africa to attend the chimurenga music maestro’s show without undertaking the necessary procedure to secure lawful leave as per the dictates prescribed for top government officials.

Although Chasi, could not be reached for comment this week and last week as his cell phone was out of reach and his personal assistant said he was in Victoria Falls, highly-placed sources told the Financial Gazette that the unauthorised trip outside the country was making things worse for the Deputy Minister, who has in recent months crossed swords with First Lady, Grace Mugabe, as he is said to have been opposing her acquisition of more land in the Mazowe area of Mashonaland Central for her intended projects.

When asked for comment, presidential spokesperson, George Charamba, told the Financial Gazette that although this particular matter was internal to the Justice Ministry, standard procedure was that all ministers and deputy ministers needed Cabinet authority before they embarked on any trip outside the country.

Even if the travel was of a personal nature. “There is nothing personal when you are in government. The assumption is that you are a government official wherever you are,” Charamba said.

According to Charamba before a top government official leaves the country he applies for Cabinet authority through the ministry’s permanent secretary, which is then submitted to the minister, then passed on to the chief secretary to the President and Cabinet who submits it to the President who then decides whether or not the trip is worth it before approving.

“It is a requirement for government. The President has to grant you authority, to give you his consent,” Charamba said.

“Besides the approval, this is also necessary in terms of risks inherent in travel; allowances, among other things.”

“Once the Cabinet approval is granted, there are additional procedures that have to be undertaken, including circulating letters to the President, chief secretary, other ministers and deputy ministers and other colleagues in the relevant ministry that one will be away, Charamba said.

In Chasi’s case, the Financial Gazette understands that this procedure was flouted as the deputy minister took the opportunity to catch up with one of his favourite musicians, Mapfumo, who has been in exile in the United States for years now. Addressing party youths in Mazowe early August, the First Lady warned those who were undermining her capabilities that they were “playing with fire”.

The First Lady told the gathering that Chasi, who is the Member of Parliament for Mazowe South was frustrating her intentions to take over Manzou Game Park, where she wanted to build a secondary school, hospital and Robert Mugabe University to generate income to support the orphans she looks after at her children’s home also in Mazowe.

The ZANU-PF Youth League which held conference a few days following the First Lady’s address, then petitioned President Robert Mugabe to remove Chasi from his post.

In an interview with the media, outgoing deputy secretary for youth affairs, Edison Chakanyuka, said Chasi has to be recalled from government for disrespecting the First Family.

“As youths, we have written to the President demanding that Chasi be recalled because he has no respect for the First Family,” Chakanyuka said. While it is not clear what Chasi’s future holds, many have said the First Lady wields considerable influence on who serves in government at her husband’s pleasure. Financial Gazette