Prisca Mupfumira seeks to halt corruption trial, berates magistrate

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By Mary Taruvinga

CORRUPTION accused former cabinet minister, Prisca Mupfumira, is seeking the postponement of her trial and is blaming a Harare magistrate of formulating a case against her.

She is facing criminal abuse of office charges.

Mupfumira, is accused of abusing office in the process that led to the US$3,5 million property development deal between the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) and Drawcard Enterprises.

She was jointly charged with Barnabas Matongera, who walked free at the close of the state’s case recently.

After he alleged accomplice was cleared, Mupfumira sought discharge, but magistrate Ngoni Nduna dismissed her application saying she has a case to answer.

Mupfumira now claims that Nduna erred in dismissing her application for discharge.

Nduna said it is clear that she did things which she should explain to the court.

“There is the coming in of Drawcard Enterprises Private Limited on board. The evidence of the state witnesses state that the accused called a meeting with Met bank to which Drawcard was then seen pitching up. The witnesses’ evidence if undisputed shows that there may be a case for accused 1 (Mupfumira) on the contracting of Draw Card,” Nduna said.

“A court does not convict those who did not appear before it. This is the sole reason why the court has not dealt much on the conduct of NSSA board in subverting tender procedures and participating as well in the contracting of Draw Card. No matter what the charge or where the trial is, the principle that the prosecution must prove the guilt of the prisoner is part of the common law of England and no attempt to whittle it down can be entertained.”

“An accused must not be called to defend nothing against her. A prima facie case must be made first. The evidence of state witness at its best suggests that Mupfumira participated in events that led to the hand picking of Drawcard Enterprises. In the absence of her evidence, that clearly would amount to a case. A prima facie case has been established and it ought to be answered,” he said.

Following this, the ex-minister has since filed an application for review at the High Court.

She is also seeking stay of proceedings awaiting the High Court ruling on her appeal.

Through her lawyer Admire Rubaya, Mupfumira said the state did not give evidence warranting a defence case.

“Asking the accused to proceed to trial is unfair and she viewed that she should have been acquitted at the end of the state case. We are seeking the postponement until the review application is determined,” Rubaya said.

The state, represented by Wisper Mabhaudhi, opposed the application saying the former cabinet minister must proceed to her defence.

The prosecutor said Mupfumira should have submitted reasonable ground that the matter be stayed but had failed to proffer any ground.

Mabhaudhi said the charge against Mupfumira was of giving specific instructions to Nssa management when she was not supposed to do that.

He further said Mupfumira acted contrary to her duty as a public officer.

Ruling is expected this Thursday.