COURT: Ex-minister and perm sec demand cabinet minutes

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By Mary Taruvinga

THE trial of former mines minister Walter Chidhakwa got off to a false start Tuesday after prosecutors failed to avail documents demanded by defence lawyers.

Chidhakwa is charging with appointing his then permanent secretary Francis Gudyanga sole board member to a ministry parastatal in contravention of the law.

The ex-minister who is being jointly charged with Gudyanga, has since fingered former President Robert Mugabe, arguing that he authorised the arrangement which saw the ministry losing $30,000.

Chidhakwa and Gudyanga have since demanded cabinet minutes and communication documents between them and Mugabe.

The secretary is facing criminal abuse of duty as a public officer after he unlawfully awarded himself allowances meant for eight people.

“We are now applying for correspondence between the accused and the former President through the secretary in the office of the president,” said the defence lawyer Sylvester Hashiti.

“We also require cabinets minutes that relate to several other state enterprises to prove that stakeholders in all state enterprises acted in the same manner as the accused did.”

Gudyanga’s lawyer, Tafadzwa Muvhami echoed the same sentiments, saying the information will assist in preparation of the defence for the accused.

The attorneys requested a longer remand period saying the State would need more time to get the documents, so it was unnecessary to keep coming to the courts in the interim.

According to court papers, the Chidhakwa and Gudyanga started committing the crime in 2013 when Minerals Marketing Cooperation of Zimbabwe dissolved its board.

Chidhakwa then appointed Gudyanga board chairperson from December 2013 to September 2016.

It is alleged that Gudyanga claimed sitting allowances amounting $28,910.

According to MMCZ Act chapter 21:04 a board should constitute a minimum of six and a maximum ten members.