By Fungai Lupande
Former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko will stand trial on December 3 for alleged criminal abuse of office after a Harare magistrate dismissed his application for exception.
Mphoko, represented by Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara, wanted to have the charges quashed claiming they were calculated to “prejudice and embarrass him.”
He said the charges forced him to reveal sensitive information protected by the Official Secrets Act (OSA).
Ruling on the application was nearly postponed to another date as regional magistrate Mr Hoseah Mujaya was busy, but Advocate Zhuwarara submitted that Mphoko had no home in Harare and would be forced to sleep in a car.
Mr Mujaya dismissed the application, saying the charges had reasonable clarity and the ex-Vice President would not be prejudiced in any way when he entered a plea.
In the application, Mphoko said State papers did not particularise which provisions of the Constitution he allegedly violated.
“The charges are vague to the point of being indecipherable,” said Adv Zhuwarara.
“The charge does not particularise whom the accused is alleged to have ordered to release, Moses Juma or Davison Norupiri.
“The charge forces the accused to reveal information precluded from publication or conveyance by the Official Secrets Act.
“The accused is at the pain of the law and has trouble responding to the charges. The law requires that he tells you everything, yet he will be exposing himself to the possibility of another charge under OSA.”
Adv Zhuwarara said Mphoko needed immunity before revealing his defence.
The State represented by acting Prosecutor-General (PG) Mr Nelson Mutsonziwa said the application was in the wrong forum because Mphoko never approached the PG with the issue of the alleged classified information.
“We don’t know the information that he has,” he said.
“What if he has nothing? The procedure was for him to bring the information before the PG who after applying his mind to the application could issue a certificate of nolle proseque.
“Where evidence is sensitive, it can be led in camera. The court cannot decide on such a matter. It is in the wrong forum and it is invalid.
“There is no ambiguity in the charge and it is not misleading in any way. The police who were ordered to release two accused persons at Avondale Police Station are witnesses in the matter.” The Herald