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Former cabinet minister Prisca Mupfumira loses “insincere” passport bid

By Nyore Madzianike

Harare magistrate Mr Ngoni Nduna on Wednesday refused to release former Cabinet Minister Prisca Mupfumira’s diplomatic and ordinary passports, saying her application for their release was insincere.

Prisca Mupfumira
Zimbabwe’s then Environment and Tourism Minister Prisca Mupfumira arrives at the Harare Magistrates Courts on July 26, 2019, as she faces seven corruption charges linked to the disappearance of $94 million from the country’s pension fund when she was welfare minister. – Mupfumira was detained on July 25, 2019 by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and is the first sitting minister of the ruling Zanu-PF party to be arrested for graft under the new administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

Mr Nduna said the court saw no reason to return the passports to her as the condition set by the High Court of having them deposited with the Clerk of Court was still in force.

He said there was still need to secure Mupfumira’s attendance to court despite her saying she had so far appeared 17 times since her arrest in September 2019.

Mr Nduna, however, varied Mupfumira’s reporting conditions from twice a week to once a month.

Mupfumira had applied for release of her two passports saying she wanted to travel outside the country for medical reasons.

“The reason for variation is based on her circumstances that have changed since bail was granted in September 2019,” said Mupfumira in her application made on her behalf by her lawyer.

“She was placed on remand in July 2019 on seven counts of criminal abuse and out of seven count the State has proceeded on one count where she is jointly charged with Ngoni Masoka. She has been remanded 17 times and is advanced in age as she turns 70 early next year.

“Accused suffered respiratory problems since 2003 and had a lung removed. Because of her age, the condition is getting worse.

“Her frequent visit to police twice a week are exposing her and posing high risk of getting infected by coronavirus. She can report once every month to mitigate that problem.

The State, led by Mr Tafara Chirambira, opposed the application saying what Mupfumira wanted to seek outside the country was available locally.

Mr Chirambira said Mupfumira was likely to abscond if her passports were released and law enforcements agents would face difficulties in locating her in a foreign jurisdiction. The Herald