Prisca Mupfumira

Priscah Mupfumira faces re-trial

FORMER Public Service minister Priscah Mupfumira and the then permanent secretary Ngoni Masoka are set for re-trial following the elevation of the presiding chief magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi to be a High Court judge.

The two are facing allegations of abuse of duty as public officers and corruptly concealing a transaction involving a US$90 000 loan application from Nssa for the purchase of a supposed ministerial vehicle and the flying of ministry officials for Mupfumira’s daughter’s wedding in South Africa.

Mupfumira’s lawyers raised the issue of the magistrate’s elevation with the High Court at a time they were waiting for a ruling on the review application against a decision the magistrate had made.

“First respondent (Mutevedzi) has ascended to higher judicial office. He can no longer sit as a magistrate and is unable to bestow a verdict upon the applicant. That being the case, the proceedings have become a nullity, they ought to be recommenced and this court ought to hold as such,” Advocate Thabani Mpofu, instructed by Admire Rubaya, argued.

High Court judges Pisirai Kwenda and Benjamin Chikowero took a view that it was important for the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to state its position in court on the issue raised.

The lawyers went on to write to the commission over the subject matter.

JSC represented by its secretary Walter Chikwana, in papers filed as requested, indicated that a judge cannot sit as a magistrate hence the matters he or she was handling before elevation would now be heard de novo (anew).

“On his appointment to the position of judge, the First Respondent relinquished power and jurisdiction as a magistrate. This effectively means that he cannot entertain any matters which he was handling in the magistrates court as he is a judge of the High Court.

“Effectively, the proceedings which he left off may be regarded as a nullity and they must be heard de novo.  The Judicial Service Commission submits that, once the first respondent was appointed to a High Court judge, he could no longer sit and entertain any matters which he handled in the Magistrates’ Court,” Chikwanha said in the response.

The accused will be back in court on April 22, a date they had agreed with the State pending the now available outcome.

The allegations are that from March to July 2015, Mupfumira, allegedly knowing she was not a procurement officer, used her influence as a minister to verbally instruct Masoka to initiate procurement procedures of obtaining a loan advance from Nssa for the purchase of a ministerial vehicle although she was aware the parastatal had no such provision.

Masoka is alleged to have written to NSSA requesting US$90 000 without written treasury approval and the funds were transferred to the ministry.

Mupfumira is alleged to have instructed Memory Mukondomi, the finance director in the ministry, to purchase a Toyota Land Cruiser VX – L200 from Croco Motors as a ministerial vehicle which is not part of her conditions of service.

According to her conditions of service, she was entitled to a Mercedes Benz E300.

The vehicle was purchased at the instruction of Mupfumira and registered with CMED as a condition of service vehicle.

The ministry, through Masoka, allegedly issued a duty free certificate for the vehicle.

It is the state’s Case that they knew that the minister was entitled to a Mercedes and that in March 2015 she had been issued with a Range Rover as part of her conditions of service and that she was not entitled to the Toyota land cruiser.

It is also further alleged that they did not reveal the $90 000 loan transaction to their principal, the office of the President and Cabinet for the purchase of the Toyota land cruiser as a vehicle for condition of service for the minister.

Mupfumira also stands accused of instructing the finance director to facilitate the payment of air tickets for her aides to attend her daughter’s wedding in South Africa.

 Masoka is accused of having unlawfully approved the payment.

It is further alleged that the duo facilitated the payment of accommodation fees and transport which prejudiced the ministry of US$10 215 and ZAR113 539.

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