By Mary Taruvinga
FRAUD accused former tourism minister Walter Mzembi failed to attend court for the umpteenth time Tuesday to face trial on alleged offences linked to his time as a top government official.
A Harare magistrate presiding over his case was again forced to push the matter to May 7 this year, amid claims the once charismatic minister was still struggling with poor health out in South Africa.
Mzembi, who left government when he had been moved to foreign affairs, is reportedly battling colon cancer.
The state has moved to demand his medical reports amid growing suspicions he could be making false claims of ailment to avoid trial.
His lawyers are yet to furnish the courts with tangible evidence the ex-MP was indeed experiencing poor health.
Appearing on behalf of his client, Job Sikhala told court there were no hopes the businessman was going to be restored to full health anytime soon.
Mzembi’s co-accused in the former’s criminal abuse of office charge, who has been religiously attending court, was left with no choice but to wait longer after the state declined to prosecute the two separately.
In the case, the ex-cabinet minister is accused of pocketing donations which were meant for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation when he was at the helm of the tourism ministry.
Court has been forced to make several postponements of trial.
Countless arrest warrants have been issued against him while his lawyer, Sikhala continues to claim his health has reached a critical state.
There have been mixed reports over Mzembi’s health status prompting demands by Harare prosecutor Brian Vito for him to present evidence to confirm the ailment.
Mzembi is jointly charged with Aaron Mushoriwa and Margaret Sangarwe who were both his juniors during his time as tourism minister.
He is among several cabinet ministers linked to the infamous G40 faction within Zanu PF who fell by the wayside when President Emmerson Mnangagwa toppled his former boss Robert Mugabe in a shock military coup November 2017.