By Lincoln Towindo and Sharon Munjenjema
The Special Anti-Corruption Unit in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) has questioned the engagement of two prominent politicians for work-related training at the Harare Magistrates’ Court despite the duo facing serious graft-related charges at the same courts.
Former Cabinet Ministers Saviour Kasukuwere and Supa Mandiwanzira — who are studying for law degrees with the University of Zimbabwe —are currently engaged as interns at the lower courts.
Kasukuwere is charged with four counts of abuse of office from his time in Government while Mandiwanzira is facing the same charges after he allegedly engaged South African firm, Megawatt Company, to provide services to NetOne without going to tender.
He is also accused of appointing his personal assistant, Tawanda Chinembiri, to the Postal Telecommunications and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) board.
Head of the OPC’s corruption-busting unit Mr Tabani Mpofu told The Sunday Mail that the engagement of the two former Cabinet Ministers is untenable.
“We are very concerned that two accused persons who are appearing at the Harare Magistrates’ Court facing corruption charges have been accepted and allowed to do their attachment for their law studies at the same courts.
“That inevitably does not inspire confidence in the public with regards to the criminal justice system operating efficiently and transparently, where these two accused persons are concerned: these are Supa Mandiwanzira and Saviour Kasukuwere,” said Mr Mpofu.
“This runs the risk of undermining public confidence in our criminal justice system and our sincerity in the fight against corruption.
“They are working in the very same corridors where we have our records. For example, Supa Mandiwanzira was in the corridors a day before he was to appear in court.”
Judicial Service Commission (JSC) Deputy Secretary Mr Sithembinkosi Msipa, however, declined to comment.
“I am not able to comment about that. What we need is proper communication and then we will be able to issue a statement on that, but I’m not at work today (yesterday); I am not in a position to give you any comment.”
JSC is a policy-making body of the Judiciary.
Government is intensifying the war against graft. According to Mr Mpofu, the special unit has begun lifestyle audits for individuals suspected to have amassed ill-gotten wealth.
Authorities are also looking into corruption-related cases raised in the Auditor-General’s recent report with a view of starting prosecutions.
“Zimra (Zimbabwe Revenue Authority) is currently undertaking those (lifestyle audits) and we have got a few cases in the pipeline emanating from that exercise.
“We don’t want to jeopardise the integrity of investigations, but what I can tell you is there will be prosecutions emanating from lifestyle audits, not only for people from Zimra.
“When we approach these cases it is only incidental what professions these people are but we are looking at a number of individuals in the public service and politicians.
“And also, you know that the Auditor-General presents a report to Parliament; we are now carefully studying the report with the view of preferring criminal charges against those implicated in the reports.
“The AG’s report will not just be another report presented to Parliament and allowed to gather dust in Government offices.
“We want to assist the AG by taking corrective measures in our courts.
“Come 2019, we will see prosecutions emanating from irregularities of the report.”
Upbeat on convictions
The team is confident that the 22 cases of high-level corruption it is presently prosecuting will result in conviction.
Mr Mpofu said most of the accused persons are employing legal technicalities of applying for exception to charges at higher courts in order to frustrate proceedings. Accused persons can apply for exception to charges if the prosecution fails to prove a prima facie case against them.
“The general public perception is that none of these cases have yet to see convictions in court; and it is an understandable attitude,” he said.
“But the fact of the matter is we cannot short cut, circumvent or short circuit due processes.
“When these accused person are arrested and brought to the courts, they have got the laws of the country available to them.
“What we have noted is that in all corruption cases before the courts, none of the accused persons are anxious to have their trials commence in court.
“We have seen many court applications at the commencement of the trial whose effect is to delay the commencement of the trial.
“To members of the public this may appear to be vindication for those who say that criminal corruption cases will not be successfully prosecuted, but that is not the case.
“Due process has to be followed.
“And in all these cases where applications have been made due process will be exhausted and the trials will commence.
“Our first trial commenced in August; the Wicknell (Chivayo) case was the first one we worked on.
“And it is on public record that at every stage that we sought to commence the trial, the accused person in that case put an application to the court whose effect was to delay the commencement.
“As we speak, Wicknell Chivayo made an application for exception to the charges; that application was thrown out by the Magistrates’ Court and he has since appealed to the High Court against the magistrate’s decision to throw out his exception charges.
“As I speak to you, the matter is with the High Court after the Judge reserved judgement on the matter.
“We have got many other cases that we sought to start prosecuting in court and we face similar applications, but convictions will come after due processes.
“Due processes cannot be short circuited; there is no way around it.”
The crack unit was established by President Mnangagwa to improve efficiency in prosecuting graft cases. The Sunday Mail