By Robert Tapfumaneyi
ZANU PF’s National Commissar Victor Matemanda has jumped to the defence of President Emmerson Mnangagwa saying the country’s leader was not responsible for the release from remand prison of some top government officials who have been arrested on corruption related charges this year.
This comes amid growing concerns within the generality of the population over government’s sincerity in fighting corruption as high profile people arrested for embezzling millions of State funds, are spending only a few weeks in remand prison before their release on bail.
The cases then seem to die a natural death.
Allegations have been made in some quarters that Mnangagwa was behind their release from remand prison and was protecting them from further prosecution.
However, responding to this national outcry now termed; ‘Catch and Release’, Matemadanda, who is also the Deputy Minister of Defence, said it was the law and not Mnangagwa to blame.
“Maybe we may want to blame the Roman-Dutch Law that we are using. It is very clear an accused is presumed guilty only after having been sentenced by a competent officer of law,” Matemadanda said in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com.
“And for the ‘Catch and Release’ that is a human right, it is a constitutional right that a person is allowed bail pending the finalisation of their trial. So there is nothing amiss.
“And also what I want our people to understand is that it is not the role of the Executive to lock up people who are given bail and so forth; that is what we call separation of powers because the Judiciary has got a role to play, which is different from the Executive and so forth,” he added.
One of the high profile cases that left people baffled was the purported arrest of former Transport Minister Joram Gumbo who was picked up by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) last month, but was released the same day without any charges being laid against him.
“It is up to the Judiciary, they see their trends, they know how to interpret law and when they give a person bail, it doesn’t mean that the case has been finalised. So it’s a right that is entitled to an accused person,” the Deputy Minister said.
ZACC has also announced that this year alone, it has arrested 101 suspects – 86 being men and are 15 women – with 71 corruption cases in court.
The anti-graft body spokesperson, John Makamure, said more prominent people were expected to picked up and prosecuted early 2020.
Other high-profile cases that ZACC has handled in 2019 include that of former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, former Cabinet Minister Prisca Mupfumira, Marry Chiwenga who wife to Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and Ngoni Masoka, former permanent secretary.