Senior Court Reporter
FORMER Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) commissioner-general Gershem Pasi was yesterday freed by a Harare magistrate who granted his application for refusal for further remand because the State still could not give him a trial date two years after his arrest.
If the State wishes to bring Pasi to trial now, it must summon him. He cannot be arrested again on the same charge and circumstances. Removal from remand is not an acquittal, since a trial can still take place, but bail conditions and travel restrictions fall away.
Pasi, who was facing criminal abuse of office charges, was removed from remand after magistrate Mrs Esthere Chivasa noted that he has been religiously attending court for the past 22 months with the State failing to give him a trial date.
In her ruling, Mrs Chivasa noted that the State was failing to complete investigations saying there was a team which was set to travel to China as part of investigations, but has not done so since his arrest.
Pasi will only return to court by way of summons.
“Twenty-tw0 months is a very long time and the accused has been religiously attending court. Every postponement should have an explanation and I am satisfied with the explanation which was always being given by the State,’’ she said.
Mrs Chivasa said the State’s failure to travel to China for further investigations could not be blamed on the Covid-19 induced lockdown, as the matter was before the court before then.
She said the public would lose confidence in the justice delivery system if the State arrests people and fails to prosecute them within reasonable periods.
The State, led by Mr George Manokore, asked for further postponement of the matter saying there was a team waiting to travel to Hong Kong for further investigations.
Allegations against Pasi were that in January 2014, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda led a high-powered ministerial delegation of senior Government officials to China.
The purpose of the visit was to affirm input capabilities in the information technologies domain in implementing prioritised e-Government projects. Pasi was part of the delegation as they wanted to implement e-taxation at Zimra.
During the visit, various Government departments had an opportunity to interact with Inspur personnel who demonstrated these capabilities.
An action plan for the implementation of the agreed programme was also signed and Pasi began his engagement with Inspur Zimbabwe for the Information Management Systems (IMS) design and development.
The ICT department being headed by Tyiyapo Velempini was involved in designing the system together with engineers from Inspur Global. In June 2014, Zimra and Inspur agreed on specifications and Pasi allegedly failed to get quotations from Inspur Zimbabwe.
He instead took the system design to Righlux Services, a company distributing Inspur products despite permission for a direct engagement. On July 1, 2014, Righlux Services supplied a $32 649 939.97 quotation which it purported to be from Inspur Group of China.