Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
Deputy Sheriff of the Botswana High Court Jacob Manzunzu who is aspiring to be a judge of the High Court of Zimbabwe, was yesterday served with summons to appear in court on charges of fraud emanating from alleged underhand dealings while he was working here as deputy Registrar of the High Court more than 10 years ago.
The interviews, which are always punctuated with comedy, yesterday provided another spectacle when another candidate Austin Sibanda told the commission how “mugwazo” (task job) forced him to quit the bench in Botswana before the expiry of his contract.
Manzunzu was served with summons by officials from the Prosecutor- General’s Office after the Judicial Service Commission interviewed him for the six vacant posts at the High Court.
He is one of the 46 candidates drawn from Zimbabwe and the Diaspora who are battling to be appointed judges of the High Court.
Highly-placed sources who were co-ordinating the interviews, confirmed the development. “Manzunzu has been arrested in connection with fraud,” said the source who preferred anonymity.
“The case involves a woman he allegedly swindled of her house when he was still working as the deputy sheriff of the High Court.
“Talk to officials in the PG’s office, they have the details. He was served with summons the moment he emerged from the interview.”
Efforts to get comment from the Prosecutor-General’s office were fruitless.
Earlier on, during the interviews, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku asked Manzunzu to explain how he left the country.
Said the Chief Justice: “You said you left the country purely for economic reason. I do not know whether you are aware or not that there are rumours that you had problems with the law?”
“In fact the prosecution was quite malicious.
“I was brought before the court on the basis that I was the head of the sheriff’s office. I allowed myself to go through the court process and was acquitted,” he said.
Manzunzu (54) was tried in July 2012 on charges of corruption for allegedly fraudulently auctioning a house belonging to Ms Sibongile Manyimo, but was acquitted at the close of the State case.
He was charged with two counts of corruption and fraud involving more than $150 000.
Manzunzu allegedly committed the offence between 2000 and 2003 while he was still working in Zimbabwe as the Registrar and Deputy Sheriff of the High Court of Zimbabwe.
Sibanda, who was employed as a senior magistrate in Botswana’s Mahalapye Court, said he was fired for resisting being transferred from his current station to the capital Gaborone.
“In Botswana they take foreign magistrates as the appendage of the system.
“We do what we call mugwazo in Shona. I could not stand it after realising that these people wanted to use me to clear cases because of the rate I cleared cases.
“They were transferring me from one station to another just to clear backlogs without rewarding me for the hard work I did.”
He also left the interviewing panel in stitches when he said expatriate magistrates in Botswana were only promoted to senior magistrates because they are said to be incapable of handling cases, particularly those involving cattle rustling saying they were deemed not conversant with cattle colours.
Since Wednesday, the JSC has interviewed 33 candidates out of the 46 who were nominated.
The interviews end today.