HARARE – Douglas Mwonzora, the mainstream MDC spokesperson, is to face trial over a 2006 case after the Constitutional Court yesterday dismissed his application for the quashing of charges.
Mwonzora had argued that prosecution delays had infringed upon his constitutionally-enshrined rights.
Mwonzora’s lawyers Trust Maanda and Jeremiah Bamu had made the Constitutional Court application, arguing the delay in commencing the trial had prejudiced their client’s case.
According to state papers, the complainant in the case is Everson Shepherd Dandadzi.
Mwonzora faced criminal charges after failing to reimburse funds to Dandadzi after an aborted sell of a house.
Maanda told the court Mwonzora’s bank had advised him that it was unable to provide him with a bank statement, which would assist him in proving his innocence.
However, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said the application had nothing to do with prejudice but the delay, which could have reasonably infringed upon Mwonzora’s fundamental rights.
Chidyausiku said the magistrate who handled the application for referral to the Constitutional Court should have dismissed the request as “frivolous and vexatious”.
He said the state also messed-up by allowing the matter to be referred to the Constitutional Court, arguing that the defence had made no meaningful submissions in support of the application.
Prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba said bank statements were available.
“The question of delay cannot be substantiated. The delay cannot be attributed to the state,” Nyazamba said, adding that the prescription period within which a case can be brought to trial from the time of arrest is 20 years.
Maanda withdrew the application, but Nyazamba urged the court to dismiss the request and have the matter brought back to the magistrates’ court for trial.
Allegations against Mwonzora arose in 2006 after Dandadzi sold a piece of land in Mabelreign, Harare.
The court was told that one Stephen Chitongo bought the piece of land, which was valued at Z$4 billion.
It is alleged in August of the same year, Matongo made two separate cheque payments through Dandadzi’s bank account.
It is alleged Dandadzi was not happy with the delay in payment of the last instalment arguing that it had been eroded by inflation.
The two had disagreements resulting in Dandadzi instructing Mwonzora to cancel the agreement of sale.
According to state papers, after the cancellation of the agreement Mwonzora did not remit the money, thereby prejudicing Dandadzi.