THE trial of former Mines minister Walter Chidakwa and his permanent secretary Francis Gudyanga on allegations of criminal abuse of office, failed to kick off at the Harare Magistrates’ Court yesterday after the defence lawyer raised a complaint saying one of the lawyers involved in the matter was conflicted.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Chidakwa’s lawyer Advocate Silvester Hashiti told magistrate Estere Chivasa that special prosecutor Zivanai Macharaga’s partner in Mugiya and Macharaga Legal Practitioners was conflicted as he was representing Gudyanga in the matter while also serving in the newly-established anti-corruption special investigate unit.
Hashiti said it will not be in the interests of justice for Macharaga to handle the matter where his partner, Norman Mugiya was representing the accused.
The issue was raised as Mugiya was away attending a funeral.
Advocate Hashiti also asked the court for a longer remand date saying the State was yet to furnish them with documents to help prepare their defence.
The court heard that the documents wanted by the defence were protected and fall under the Official Secrets Act and needed to be declassified in order for them to be used in court.
Hashiti had requested a letter of appointment of Gudyanga, his contract of employment, the terms of reference of the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) board, conditions of service of MMCZ board members, Cabinet minutes on restructuring of MMCZ board, requisitions for board fees made by the permanent secretary in the ministry and Cabinet authority for travel by Gudyanga on MMCZ business.
Chivasa then postponed the matter to October 4.
Allegations are that sometime in December 2013, Chidakwa corruptly dissolved the MMCZ board. Chidakwa allegedly corruptly appointed Gudyanga to act as MMCZ sole board member from December 2013 to September 2016.
The State alleges according to MMCZ Act Chapter 21:4, a board constitutes a minimum of six board members and a maximum of 10.
It is alleged Gudyanga who had been unprocedurally appointed by Chidakwa went on to corruptly claim an amount of $28 910 as board and sitting allowances when no board was in existence to the prejudice of the MMCZ.
This led to the duo’s arrest.
Michael Reza appeared for the State.