HUMAN rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa has been accused of using the high profile nature of some of her clients to score political points against the Government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Some of the clients that Mtetwa has represented recently include political activist Hopewell Chin’ono, suspended HighCourt judge Justice Erica Ndewere and Marry Mubaiwa, the former wife of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga. She has also represented Advocate Thabani Mpofu in a case he is accused of concealing a transaction in 2017.
All her clients claim that their charges are politically motivated and are mere persecution by the State, and Mtetwa has been accused of “abusing” that to score political points against the Government.
In a recent case this week, Mtetwa had Marry Mubaiwa wheeled into a Harare court on a stretcher complete with emergency medical personnel purportedly to portray her client as a victim of State-sanctioned persecution.
Opposition LEAD president Linda Masarira said it was strange that a whole decorated lawyer of Mtetwa’s stature had to drag her sick client before magistrate Ngoni Nduna all for optics and public sympathy.
“The warrants of arrests issued at the Magistrates court in Zimbabwe are adminstrative and not acted upon on the day of issuance. Beatrice Mtetwa is a well seasoned and decorated lawyer who knows this and should have advised her client accordingly,” said Masarira, who was arrested numerous times and had several court appearances in cases involving mostly her fight against the Robert Mugabe government.
Masarira added: “Was she (Mubaiwa) forced to go there? NO! Does she have a medical condition? YES! Can a warrant of arrest be cancelled with medical records? YES! Was it necessary for her to go to court with an ambulance? NO! Is she the first to be issued with a warrant whilst being hospitalized? NO!”
Masarira further drew comparison with her case in October 2016 when a Mbare magistrate slapped her with a warrant of arrest for failing to appear in court at a tme she was hospitalised. The warrant of arrest was later cleared without her being dragged before the courts after it was proven she was taken ill.
The case of Marry Mubaiwa left some to conclude that Beatrice Mtetwa was using clients to extract political mileage.
“The drama of wheeling Marry Chiwenga into the court on a stretcher with nurses adjusting drips and all that stuff for public effect was totally uncalled for. This playing to the gallery beats reality shows,” freelance journalist Conway Tutani.
“It seems one particular lawyer is ill-advising clients because SHE has totally discarded professional detachment because of HER intense political hatred of one side.
“There is a clear pattern of obsessive political hostility on HER part going by the motley list of HER clients – from Zanu PF outcasts to MDC Alliance diehards – who have personal axes to grind with officialdom, and these include a political activist who abuses journalistic privilege and a suspended High Court judge,” Tutani added.
Last month, Mtetwa, an eSwatini-born naturalised Zimbabwean lawyer, told an African publication that the Zimbabwean courts are “captured” by the Executive and she has no confidence in them even though she is an officer of the courts by default.
“I have absolutely no doubt that there is judicial capture at the magistrate’s courts because I have seen it. One only qualifies for bail when the state concedes,” Mtetwa told the Africa Report.
“The anti-corruption courts at Rotten Row in Harare, there can be no question that there is total capture in those courts. The only people who get bail at the magistrate’s courts are those aligned to the president and ruling party,” she added.
Speaking to the Zimbabwe Voice on Mtetwa’s sentiments, Zanu-PF acting national spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa dismissed allegations of Zanu-PF capture of the judiciary and said one only needed to see that all Mtetwa’s clients claim political persecution and she was “milking that” for whatever reasons.
Chinamasa refused to speak on the matter of suspended High Court judge Justice Erica Ndewere saying the issue was before a tribunal. However, Justice Ndewere also claimed via her lawyer Mtetwa that she was a victim of persecution by Chief Justice Luke Malaba because she released MDC Alliance official Job Sikhala on bail.
Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, in an interview with the Zimbabwe Voice, also rubbished suggestions that the Executive wields some control over the judiciary.
“Section 164 of the Zimbabwe constitution calls for the independence of the judiciary, stating that the courts are independent and subjected to the constitution and the law. The Executive led by President Mnangagwa has no appetite to go against that,” Ziyambi said. – Zimbabwe Voice