By Court Reporter
FORMER cabinet minister Walter Mzembi is hospitalised in South Africa and battling for his life, his lawyer has told a Harare court.
The former foreign affairs minister is so critically ill that he skipped court last week, resulting in him being issued with a warrant of arrest.
His lawyer Job Sikhala said Mzembi is “in bad shape” and unable to attend court over several fraud cases.
Citing attorney-client privilege, Sikhala refused to disclose the ailment which has seen the ex-minister committed to the intensive care unit of a South African hospital.
On Wednesday, the defence lawyer tried to have the case heard in camera, so he could explain why his client skipped court.
But the magistrate ruled there was nothing special about Mzembi falling sick and ruled that the deliberations continue in open court.
Mzembi is accused of stealing $1,6 million, among other charges which relate to his long spell as tourism minister.
He is charged together with tourism and hospitality ministry consultant Aaron Dzingira Mushoriwa, 62, and ex-ministry permanent secretary Margret Sangarwe, 59.
Prosecutors allege the trio stole funds which were meant for United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) congress jointly hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia in 2013.
They are also facing theft of trust property charges.
Prosecutors say they took donations from Mbada Diamonds and Mimosa mining companies after they were elected as professional conference organisers on a contract basis.
The contract was for the consultants to source funding from the corporate world and assist in managing the UNWTO project.
Court heard they also bought top range of the range vehicles which they shared among themselves instead of surrendering them to the ministry.