Former council boss seeks relief

Nyore Madzianike Senior Court Reporter

Regional magistrate Mr Taurai Manwere is today expected to make a ruling on former Harare City council head of town planning Priscilla Charumbira’s application for exception on allegations of corruptly changing land use in the capital without following procedures.

Charumbira is charged with criminal abuse of duty as a public officer or alternatively fraud.

Through her lawyer Professor Lovemore Madhuku, Charumbira initially pleaded not guilty to the charges before making her application. In her application, Charumbira argued that the charge did not indicate the specific “paid office” that she held at the time the alleged offence was committed.

She also told the court that the charge did not state her duties as a public officer and the manner in which what was allegedly done was contrary to the said duties.

Charumbira also said that there was no allegation that said the land in question — Remainder of Salisbury Township, Stand No 40600, was in the category of land contemplated in Part VII of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act, thereby making the alleged facts not to disclose an offence.

“It is not every employee of a local authority who is a public officer for purposes of section 174 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chap 9:23). There is a difference between Chapters IX and X of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (chap 9:23).

In section 175, public official specifically includes some employees while in section 169, public officer is restricted to persons holding a paid office.

“It is respectfully submitted that applying the natural and ordinary grammatical meaning of paid office , an employee does not, without more, hold a paid office, she said.

Charumbira also told the court that the alternative charge arose, for the first time, when her trial opened.

“The charge is therefore improperly placed,” she said. The State led by Mr Ephraim Zinyandu, in his response, told the court that by first denying the charges Charumbira was aware of what she was alleged to have done, rendering the State’s allegations clear.

“The accused cannot plead to the charge thereby implying that it is properly drafted and then after entering a plea attack its propriety.”


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