By Fungi Kwaramba
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is scrutinising a docket alleging abuse of office and obstruction of the course of justice by former vice president Phelekezela Mphoko while he was still in government.
The NPA, responsible for instituting and undertaking criminal prosecutions on behalf of the State, was handed Mphoko’s docket by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) early this month.
Another docket before the NPA — established under section 259 of the Constitution — is that of former Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo, who is accused of siphoning funds from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef).
In 2015, Moyo who is in self-imposed exile challenged the constitutionality of his arrest by Zacc.
He suffered a huge setback in September last year, when the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) threw out an application in which he was challenging Zacc’s arresting powers with the full Con-Court bench ruling that Moyo had jumped the gun by rushing to the apex court when a magistrate could have dealt with the matter without any difficulties.
Zacc commissioner in charge of investigations Goodson Nguni told the Daily News on Wednesday that both dockets were now with the NPA.
“He (Mphoko) is facing criminal abuse of office charges as well as a charge of obstructing the course of justice,” said Nguni.
“Another docket that we have finished is that of Jonathan Moyo. They are both with the prosecutor-general’s office,” he added.
Mphoko and Moyo were both kingpins in the Generation 40 (G40) faction which tried unsuccessfully to block Emmerson Mnangagwa’s rise to the presidency of the Republic.
G40 functionaries fought bitter political battles with their rivals in the Team Lacoste faction, which was campaigning for Mnangagwa to succeed former president Robert Mugabe until mid November last year when the faction was annihilated by the military.
Since then, G40 members have been staring down the barrel as their foes initiate steps to make them account for their past misdeeds under a military operation targeting “criminals” around former president, Mugabe.
Two incidents have dogged Mphoko since he was forced out of government in November last year on allegations of being divisive, protecting criminals, preaching hate speech and behaving in a manner inconsistent with the office and decorum of vice president.
The first pertains to an incident in which he stormed Avondale Police Station in Harare in July 2016 and ordered the release of top Zimbabwe National Road Administration officials who had been arrested by Zacc on graft allegations involving over $1,3 million.
Mphoko, who was acting president at the time, arrived at the police station at night and secured the immediate release of the suspects alleging they were “his boys”.
Mugabe, who was president at the time, was away in Rwanda when this happened.
Mphoko was also acting president in May last year when he allegedly caused a storm after he reportedly stormed into Bulawayo Central Police Station, and expressed anger over the arrest of several Zanu PF activists in connection with the intra-party violence that had occurred at the party’s provincial offices at Davis Hall.
He also reportedly secured their release.
PG Ray Goba could neither confirm nor deny whether they now have Mphoko’s docket saying he does not discharge his duties publicly.
“We cannot discuss something that is under investigation because it will be sub judice,” said Goba on Wednesday.
“What I can tell you is that we can neither confirm nor deny that investigations are going on. Even if I knew, I cannot discuss matters that are under investigation. We are given dockets by Zacc or the police which we will process and then put to the courts. (Only) then will it be public”.
The NPA was established under section 259 of the Constitution, promulgated in 2013.
It is a separate, independent and accountable institution responsible for instituting and undertaking criminal prosecutions on behalf of the State.
The NPA also promotes a just and fair system for all persons approaching the courts and protecting the rights of the arrested and detained persons as provided for by the Constitution.
Since Mnangagwa assumed office on November 24 last year, several former government officials, mostly from the dismantled G40 faction, have been hauled before the courts on corruption charges.
None among the current batch of ministers and those who were in the victorious Team Lacoste faction have been charged.
Recently, Nguni said while Zacc’s hands were previously tied during Mugabe’s reign, the anti-graft body was now working without interference under the new dispensation which has declared zero tolerance to corruption.
Zacc has dominated news headlines after orchestrating several arrests of high-profile politicians and business people since last December when a new era dawned on the country.
According to the Constitution, Zacc can among other things direct the commissioner-general of police to investigate cases of suspected corruption and also refer to the prosecutor-general matters for prosecution.
Mphoko was appointed vice president in 2014 and left the post unceremoniously last year after he was expelled from Zanu PF along with other G40 mandarins, among them Mugabe’s wife, Grace.
He was subsequently recalled from the office of vice president over a slew of allegations.
Mphoko had left the country on an official visit to Japan on November 14, 2017, a day before the army intervened in Zanu PF’s internal affairs, leading to Mugabe’s resignation.
He did not return to Zimbabwe but instead flew to Botswana where he was a guest of the government there. He returned to Zimbabwe on December 1.
He is now reportedly demanding an exit package following his dismissal from government and is being represented by opposition leader and lawyer Welshman Ncube in the matter.
Mphoko’s demand came a few days after Mnangagwa officially gazetted Mugabe’s exit package.
First class air travel on four foreign trips per year; private houses and a veritable army of aides and domestic staff – were some of the benefits Mugabe would enjoy.
According to a constitutional expert Lovemore Madhuku, Mphoko was likely going to receive all his benefits.
Madhuku said section 102 of the Constitution stated that a person who had ceased to be president or vice president was entitled to a pension equivalent to a sitting president or vice president. Daily News