Former Health Minister David Parirenyatwa, facing charges of criminal abuse of office, yesterday lost his bid to be removed from remand after the court dismissed his application, saying no one was to blame for the delay in continuation of his trial.
Parirenyatwa, through his lawyer Mr Innocent Chingarande, had argued that he had come to court 10 times without being tried and that these delays in trial were violating his right to a fair trial within a reasonable period.
“He is a respectable member of the society who can be summoned back to court at any time,” argued the lawyer. The circumstances of this matter are that he be tried within reasonable period. He cannot be punished to come to court and only be remanded,” he said.
The State led by Mr Brian Vito told the court that the prosecution was ready for the trial, but magistrate Mr Elijah Makomo, was preparing to travel to South Africa to seek medical attention.
Indications were that Mr Makomo will be back at work sometime mid next month.
“Even if the trial magistrate was here, the defence was not ready for trial as the accused person’s lawyer of choice is not available.
In his ruling, magistrate Mr Stanford Mambanje, said it was difficult for Parirenyatwa to place blame on one part as there were a number of factors that contributed, including the national Covid-19 lockdown.
Mr Mambanje said summoning Parirenyatwa to court at will, rather than setting the dates for his return to court under the remand process, would result in a cumbersome process that can be avoided by remanding the matter to the date when Mr Makomo is expected to be back at work.
“Even if the trial magistrate was here, it was not going to continue because of absence of accused person’s legal practitioner of choice.
“The State confirmed that the magistrate will be available and the sick leave is not indefinite. Summons will result in a cumbersome process that will result in the prejudice in the administration of justice,” he said.
Mr Mambanje remanded Parirenyatwa to May 14 when Mr Makomo is expected to be back at work.
Parirenyatwa allegedly ordered NatPharm board chairman George Washaya to terminate Flora Nancy Sifeku’s contract as managing director, saying he required her services at the ministry’s headquarters in Harare.
He is also alleged to have directed Washaya to appoint Newman Madzikwa as acting NatPharm MD with effect from June 1, 2018. It is alleged Parirenyatwa showed favour to Mr Newman Madzikwa, who had once been sacked from the company for selling donated drugs. The Herald