By Mary Taruvinga
CHIEF magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi has dismissed an application by former cabinet minister Prisca Mupfumira who was seeking his recusal in her trial.
Mutevedzi ruled the application lacked merit adding he cannot recuse himself because Mupfumira’s complaints had nothing to do with his conduct.
The former minister had applied for Mutevedzi to recuse himself because he had presided over her initial remand and also turned down her several bail applications.
In his ruling Mutevedzi said Mupfumira should not always assume that rulings on her bail applications; “should always be in her favour” adding that she can still make as many applications as she wanted.
Mupfumira had also complained that during trial Mutevedzi could be biased because he had already declared there was reasonable suspicion that the former public service and tourism minister committed the offences she is accused of.
She said this is supported by the fact he ordered for the production of a certificate classifying her offences as serious.
However, Mutevedzi said the finding was a legal requirement and the stage of remand processes could not be avoided.
“This court, therefore, dismisses the application for lack of merit and orders that the trial starts forthwith,” he ruled.
Mupfumira is facing criminal abuse of office charges.
She is jointly charged with Ngoni Masoka, a former public service ministry secretary.
They are being charged with two counts of criminal abuse of office and another count of concealling a transaction from their principal.
The case involves US$90 000 they allegedly got from National Social Security Authority (NSSA), which they used to purchase a Toyota Land Cruiser sports utility vehicle instead of a Mercedes Benz.
They also allegedly ordered the purchase of air tickets worth US$10 215 to attend Mupfumira’s daughter wedding in Cape Town, South Africa in December 2015 before paying R113 559 for accommodation without the government’s approval.
They both deny the charges.