A High Court decision to acquit former Information Communication Technology Minister Supa Mandiwanzira has triggered a chain of events that could open a can of worms within the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the judiciary.
The ex-minister was facing criminal abuse of office charges after he allegedly awarded a consultancy deal to Megawatt Company based in South Africa, prejudicing NetOne of $5 million.
He challenged his prosecution at the magistrates’ court arguing the charges against him were baseless.
Harare regional magistrate, Elijah Makomo trashed his application for exception of the criminal charges and ruled the Nyanga South legislator should be put to his defence.
But Mandiwanzira approached the upper court seeking to overturn Makomo’s judgement with success.
High Court Judge Nicholas Mathonsi on Wednesday then quashed charges of abuse of office against Mandiwanzira.
However, it has emerged that the NPA and Prosecutor General Kumbirai Hodzi who are cited as respondents in the matter were not served with papers in order to make representations as required.
Ruled Mathonsi: “The application for review is hereby granted. The judgment of the first respondent dated 15th February 2019 be and is hereby set aside and substituted with an order that count 1 of the charges brought against the applicant on the 7th of December 2018 is hereby quashed.”
According to a copy of the order, Mandiwanzira, the applicant in the matter, was represented by Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba while the State was “in default”.
This has raised the ire of the Special Anti-Corruption Unit which has been dealing with the matter at the Magistrates’ Court before Mandiwanzira approached the High Court for review. Harare lawyer Tinomudaishe Chinyoka has since been approached to appeal the matter.
Chinyoka was not at liberty to comment.
“I am not at the office and cannot tell which case has been brought to my desk as of now. So I cannot confirm,” said Chinyoka.
However, NewZimbabwe.com has it on good authority that senior prosecutors in the NPA told Hodzi that Mathonsi had made his ruling on merit and that they had tried to oppose the application without success.
But the file holding Mandiwanzira’s acquittal papers shows there was no representation from the respondents.
Instead, documents seen by NewZimbabwe.com show that Mandiwanzira’s lawyers served the Attorney General’s Office even though the chief government legal counsel was not a respondent in the matter.
The documents gleaned by this publication (notice of set down copies) also show that the case was set down for hearing on the “unopposed roll on the 27th day of March 2019.”
Mandiwanzira is facing a second charge in which he is accused of appointing his unqualified personal assistant to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) board.
Magistrate Makomo was due to make a ruling on an application by Mandiwanzira in which the former Minister is demanding his passport.