Mupfumira trial in false start

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Zimbabwe's Environment and Tourism Minister Prisca Mupfumira arrives at the Harare Magistrates Courts last year

Munyaradzi Doma

Former cabinet minister Prisca Mupfumira’s trial failed to start Thursday morning after the State failed to provide documents requested for by the defendant’s defence team.

Mupfumira, who is jointly charged with former Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare secretary Ngoni Masoka, is facing charges of criminal abuse of duty and concealing a transaction from a principal.

Prosecutor Clemence Chimbari said that they had faced challenges in acquiring all the documents required by Mupfumira and Masoka for their trial.

He said they could only provide the conditions of service document while the defence requested for more time to go through it.

Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba who is representing Mupfumira on instructions from Zivanai Makwanya, however, argued that the State had provided inadequate documents for the defence to prepare for trial.

Magwaliba submitted that the State had defaulted on providing the audited financial reports of 2016 to 2018, a 2010 Cabinet Circular 4, cabinet handbook which was in operation when Mupfumira was minister and Masoka’s scope of duties.

Masoka’s lawyer, Farai Mushoriwa, also submitted that he had got most of the documents he had requested, but the parameters of his client’s duties and the 2010 Cabinet Circular 4 were still outstanding.

Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi postponed the matter to February 5 for commencement of trial and the state was ordered to have provided the necessary documents needed by the defence.

Allegations are that sometime between March 2015 and July the same year, Mupfumira and Masoka took a US$90 000 loan from NSSA without Treasury approval to buy a Toyota Land Cruiser VX-L200 for the former minister.

Mupfumira was entitled to a Mercedes Benz E300.

On the other charge, it is alleged that from October 2016 to December of the same year, the two authorised the payment of US$10 215 and Rand 113 539 from the ministry’s drought fund account to pay for air tickets, hotel accommodation and taxi services for ministry officials and Mupfumira’s relatives who attended her daughter’s wedding in Cape Town, South Africa.

It is further alleged that the duo corruptly concealed a transaction from a principal when in June 2017, they failed to reveal that the Toyota Land Cruiser had been bought by NSSA funds on behalf of the ministry.

Mupfumira allegedly ended up having three official cars instead of two.

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