Mzembi battles stomach cancer, trial delayed

Former Foreign Affairs Minister Walter Mzembi

FORMER Foreign Affairs Minister, Walter Mzembi, is battling stomach cancer and will be undergoing treatment in South Africa for at least a year, a court heard on Tuesday.

Mzembi, who is facing several criminal charges, told Harare magistrate, Milton Serima, that he has been diagnosed with gastric cancer and has since been operated in South Africa.

The magistrate approved his application for further release of his passport to allow for the frequent trips to South Africa for check-up.

The ex-minister produced a supporting letter from a South African medical specialist who indicated that he will be required to return for post-operative reviews.

Mzembi revealed his condition when he appeared in court to cancel a warrant of arrest he was issued with in May this year.

He told court that he was hospitalised in an intensive care unit on the day he was supposed to attend court. The warrant was cancelled.

Mzembi was represented by his lawyer, Job Sikhala, who informed the court his client was seriously ill back in May.

Back then, the lawyer tried to keep Mzembi’s medical condition under wraps by requesting for the case to be held in camera, but the application was turned down.

Mzembi will be back in court on August 31 pending his trial.

Mzembi is accused of stealing $1,6 million among other charges when he was still the Tourism and Hospitality Minister.

He is being charged together with Tourism and Hospitality ministry consultant Aaron Dzingira Mushoriwa, 62, and the ex-permanent secretary Margret Sangarwe, 59.

Prosecutors allege when he stole $1,6 million in donations from Mbada Diamonds and Zimplats, Mzembi and his accomplices bought top-of-the-range vehicles for themselves.

The ex-minister is facing theft of trust property as well as fraud charges.

Mzembi is also facing separate charges of criminal abuse of office relating to a donation of television sets to three churches – the Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD); United Family International (UFI) and the Zimbabwe Christian Church (ZCC).

It is his argument that he did this in line with a government policy of religious tourism. The televisions were bought by the ministry for outside showing of the 2010 World Cup.

Mzembi was Foreign Minister when a military coup ousted former President Robert Mugabe. The new government has targeted former Mugabe loyalists for criminal prosecution. – ZimLive