By Patrick Chitumba
Former Midlands Provincial Affairs Minister Jason Machaya was yesterday put to his defense on criminal abuse of office charges.
Machaya appeared before provincial Magistrate, Ms Charity Maphosa facing allegations of unlawfully allocating and disposing State land. The former minister, who is out on $1000 bail is expected back in court tomorrow for continuation of trial.
Machaya was supposed to have been put to his defense on August 21 last year after Ms Maphosa dismissed his application for discharge at the end of the State case.
The magistrate ruled that he had a case to answer and should be put to his defence but Machaya approached the High Court describing the decision of placing him on his defence as “grossly irregular”.
However, Harare High Court judge Justice Pisirayi Kwenda threw out the application saying it lacked merit.
The judge said the trial at the lower court has to be completed before Machaya can seek a review by a higher court or appeal. The ex-minister was back in court yesterday and was put to his defence. His trial continues tomorrow.
Machaya in his defense is arguing that he acted in delegated authority in his capacity as Midlands Minister of State.
The State’s case is that the accused, intentionally allocated State land totaling 17 799 stands to land developers which was inconsistent with his duties.
Prosecutors say Machaya did not have any lawful responsibility to allocate State land to the said developers and entities, a lawful responsibility of the Minister of Local Government and Public Works.
The accused person, the court heard, further received 1 791 commonage stands from the said land developers and entities which constituted 18 percent of the total stands on the allocated State land.
It is further alleged that Machaya sold 1 185 of the commonage stands which was also inconsistent with his duties as the stands can only be allocated and distributed by the Local Government Minister.
The accused person is also alleged to have also allocated 192 commonage stands to the Apostolic Christian Church of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) when he did not have lawful right to do so. Mr Clemence Chimbari appeared for the State. The Chronicle