High Court throws out ex-minister Mupfumira’s appeal

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By Staff Reporter

HIGH Court judges of appeal, Justices Benjamin Chikowero and Rodgers Manyangadze have dismissed an appeal by former cabinet minister Prisca Mupfumira who was challenging the lower court’s decision to dismiss her application for discharge at the close of state’s case.

Mupfumira is facing criminal abuse of office charges after she gave specific instructions to the management of the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) to enter into a housing project with a company called Drawcard Enterprises (Private) Limited (Drawcard).

Her application for discharge was recently dismissed by magistrate Ngoni Nduna.

Aggrieved by the decision, Mupfumira took the matter up to the High Court challenging Nduna’s decision.

But the High Court ruled there is no reason to interfere with the lower court’s ruling.

“We are mindful of the fact that the allegations are that the applicant issued specific instructions to NSSA middle management to make sure that the contract was signed between NSSA and Drawcard within forty-eight hours of the Anesu Building meeting.

“In light of the evidence on record, which we have painstakingly gone through, can it be said that the decision to dismiss the application for discharge at the close of the case for the prosecution was grossly irregular as to seriously prejudice the rights of the applicant? We have elsewhere in this judgement already answered that question in the negative. Before setting out our reasons for holding, we turn to the law,” said the judges.

“We reiterate that we have studied the record of the proceedings unfolding before the first respondent. We do not see anything or any basis to descend in that arena when regard is had to the evidence placed before that court. The case for the prosecution was clear. It was simple,” they added.

The judges noted that according to the prosecution, Mupfumira committed the offence at the Anesu Building meeting by issuing verbal instructions to those members of the NSSA middle management present at that meeting to enter into a contract with Drawcard.

Chikowero said whether the proceedings of that meeting were minuted ‘is immaterial’.

“The record of proceedings discloses the applicant’s pivotal involvement in the favourable positioning of Drawcard right from the Metbank Building Meeting, the Anesu Building Meeting and the applicant’s unrelenting pressure upon Chihota and Mukondomi to hurriedly conclude the contract.

“All in all, the nine grounds for review are, at the end of the day, a grouping of grounds of appeal and argument to motivate such grounds. They miss the point.”

Mupfumira was the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare when she committed the offence.

The allegations are that she acted contrary to and inconsistent with her duties by instructing NSSA to enter into a housing project with Drawcard.

The unlawful instruction was designed to circumvent the requirement that NSSA goes through its own internal processes culminating in obtaining Board approval as well as going through tender procedures before NSSA could lawfully enter into the housing project contract.

The prejudice to NSSA was that it did not benefit from the safeguards inherent in obtaining Board approval and tender procedures before contracting with Drawcard.

On the other hand Mupfumira’s specific instructions to NSSA management to enter into a contract Drawcard favoured the latter because it did not compete with anybody before acquiring the tender.

The court discharged the Acting General Manager of NSSA following an analysis of a concession by the prosecution that it had not established a self-evident case against the co-accused person.

The lower court ruled Mupfumira had a case to answer.