BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE/MIRIAM MANGWAYA
THE trial of former Labour minister Priscah Mupfumira on criminal abuse of office charges resumed yesterday where she claimed that her charge sheet did not specify the duties she allegedly abused.
Mupfumira, who is being charged together Ngoni Masoka, who was permanent secretary in the Labour ministry, appeared before magistrate Ngoni Nduna.
Represented by Admire Rubaya, Mupfumira said she did not instruct anyone at the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) to violate rules as she did not run the organisation on a daily basis.
“The first accused (Mupfumira) is at a loss as to how to defend herself without embarrassing herself in her defence in that the charge sheet read to her does not set out the specific duty or duties that she allegedly unlawfully and intentionally abused,” Rubaya said.
“It does not set out how the alleged duty or duties should have been carried out and it does not outline how she derogated from the lawful discharge of the undisclosed duty or duties as a minister in the government of the Republic of Zimbabwe.”
Mupfumira denied giving instructions to the NSSA management on the institution’s investment projects.
She said NSSA management was made up of many individuals, making the allegation by the State in the charge sheet inconceivable.
“Mupfumira denies ever giving Masoka any alleged instruction for him to allegedly enter into any offtake housing project contracts on behalf of NSSA without a NSSA board approval and/or without going through the tender process,” Rubaya submitted.
He said Mupfumira was just a government minister and not an executive official at NSSA.
The former minister said she was targeted because she was accused of financing a Zanu PF faction known as Lacoste, which was allegedly aligned to then Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
She said the allegations were raised by the late former President Robert Mugabe’s nephew, Patrick Zhuwao.
Zhuwao is currently in exile after fleeing the country following a November 2017 military coup which catapulted Mnangagwa to power.
The matter was postponed to May 26 for trial continuation.
Meanwhile, Mupfumira’s application to be tried separately from her co-accused, Masoka, was dismissed by Harare magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi.
Mupfumira is jointly charged for graft with Masoka, who is former permanent secretary of the Labour ministry.
She said since they were jointly charged, Masoka could not be compelled to give evidence on her behalf as an accused person yet he was her competent and compellable witness.
In his ruling, Mutevedzi said it would be difficult for the prosecution to prove their case against Mupfumira without linking them to the actions of the accused, hence it would jeopardise the State’s case.
- Follow us on Twitter @NewsDayZimbabwe