By Fidelis Munyoro
A warrant of arrest has been issued against former Energy and Power Development Minister Samuel Undenge, as the State seeks to have him imprisoned for 30 months for abuse of office.
The warrant of arrest issued on June 11 stems from the recent rejection of Undenge’s appeal by the High Court, which found that the sentence was not excessive and did not induce any sense of shock and outrage.
Undenge’s lawyers, Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni have approached the High Court seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court against the latest decision.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) yesterday confirmed that a warrant for Undenge’s arrest was issued two days after the court ruling when the ex-minister failed to surrender himself to court.
JSC head of communications and corporate affairs Rumbidzayi Takawira said: “Following former Minister Undenge’s appeal being thrown out of the High Court, he should have taken the onus to hand himself in.
“This prompted magistrate Mr Hosea Mujaya to issue a warrant of arrest which was received by police at Rotten Row on the 11th of June. It is now entirely in the hands of the police to bring him forward.”
Police could not execute the arrest on Undenge, arguing that the ex-minister’s case was not in their records as the matter was handled by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC).
“I checked with the Criminal Investigation Department and that case is not ours,” said chief police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi. “Remember, ZACC has arresting powers. It is their case to deal with.”
When contacted for comment, Undenge’s lawyer Mr Alec Muchadehama said he did not know the whereabouts of his client, but said he had since filed a notice for leave to appeal at the High Court.
“We are taking the matter up to the Supreme Court.
“We filed a notice for leave to appeal at the High Court recently challenging the decision. It is ZACC’s case. Remember, ZACC now has arresting powers. They are the ones handling that case. You can talk to them.”
Undenge was convicted for abuse of office after he hand-picked a public relations company for the Zimbabwe Power Company without going to tender.
The rejection of the appeal against both conviction and sentence in the High Court means Undenge will now serve the full sentence after his argument in his appeal hearing that it was excessive and induced a sense of shock and outrage, was thrown out.
The High Court found no merit in the appeal. He had also wanted the court to consider community service or a fine as appropriate sentences.
But Justice Joseph Musakwa, sitting with Justice Phildah Muzofa, upheld both conviction and the sentence imposed on Undenge.
Undenge was slapped with an effective two-and-half-year term for corruption after prejudicing Zimbabwe Power Company of US$12 000. The Herald