Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter—
PRESSURE to have Higher and Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo prosecuted over corruption allegations intensified yesterday after a Harare vendor approached the High Court seeking an order compelling police to arrest the minister.
Prof Moyo has been in the news since his foiled “arrest” at the last Politburo meeting in Harare last week on allegations of abusing public funds.The minister is accused of abusing $450 000 from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef).In an application filed in the High Court yesterday evening under a certificate of urgency, the vendor, Mr Hardlife Mudzingwa also seeks an order for the Executive to distance itself from Minister Moyo’s prosecution.
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He listed Prof Moyo, Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, Commissioner-General of Police Dr Augustine Chihuri and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZAAC) as respondents.“Pending the confirmation or discharge of the provisional order, an interim relief is hereby granted on the following terms—that third respondent (Dr Chihuri) be and is hereby ordered and directed to bring first respondent (Minister Moyo) before a court of law on the various publicised criminal allegations that he is facing and shall, to the extent that it is necessary, effect his arrest,” read part of the draft of the interim order sought.
In his papers, Mr Mudzingwa said it was his constitutional right as a Zimbabwean citizen to have Minister Moyo “brought before equity”.“I make that plea as a citizen and a subject of the State for whose benefit the constitution was enacted,” said Mr Mudzingwa.“I demand a law that applies equally to everyone regardless of political persuasion or position in the Government or in a political faction, real or perceived.”
Mr Mudzingwa said the court should grant him an order forcing Comm-Gen Chihuri to set in motion the wheels of criminal justice, without the hindrance of VP Mphoko, any Minister, or any authority.“I have no other remedy,” he said adding, “Justice dictates that the law be followed. Jonathan Moyo must be brought before a court of law by any means necessary. He must be arrested if he cannot co-operate with the police.”
Mr Mudzingwa further stated that people who are committing crimes “today are being arrested today”.“That is what must happen with first respondent, otherwise there will be chaos and the constitutional centre will fail to hold,” he said.“The breach of the Constitution involved, particularly by an acting president makes the matter irrevocably urgent.
He must be given the opportunity to prove that he is a true Robin Hood and that the law allows him to be such.“He must be afforded the chance to do so by all means necessary,” said Mr Mudzingwa.“That means he must appear before a court of law. He cannot plead his cause before Cabinet, the Politburo or on Twitter.”
Mr Mudzingwa, who had been arrested before for street vending said, whenever the police took the view that he had committed criminal misconduct, he had been arrested.
He said no one ever tried to protect him each time he was arrested except the law.“Whenever I have felt that I was innocent, I have had to protest my innocence in terms of and I have been vindicated by the law,” he said.
“There are times when I have committed crimes thinking that I was benefitting the public. That has not stopped my arrest notwithstanding that my actions have been of benefit to people from all constituencies in the country and not the constituency from which I hail. I have at all times been required to answer to the law.”
Mr Mudzingwa added that judges, members of the police force and recently the Prosecutor General Mr Johannes Tomana had been arrested.“In Zimbabwe people are arrested and brought before equity whenever it is felt that they have committed criminal misconduct.”Mr Mudzingwa also said after the allegations against Minister Moyo spilled into the public domain, the Minister seemingly admitted to the allegations and called himself Robin Hood.
“I understand that Robin Hood is famed for stealing from the rich and distributing the proceeds to the poor,” said Mudzingwa.“He (Minister Moyo) also seems to suggest that he is not the only one involved in this kind of misconduct. He sees a tribal hand in the fact that the allegations have been made. This is unfortunate. The upshot of his response is to confirm the fact that a prima facie case against him exists.”
Mr Mudzingwa said VP Mphoko’s statement that Minister Moyo could cannot be arrested without President Mugabe’s consent was wrong and unacceptable at law.
“I submit that it is corrupt for the second respondent to shield first respondent from arrest on the inane basis that the President has not authorised his arrest,” he said.“This is blatantly unconstitutional and is with respect criminal misconduct. I submit that such conduct gives the impression that the constitutional ideals underpinning the establishment of the fourth respondent are not high on the State’s agenda. This is sad.”
Mr Mudzingwa said what VP Mphoko said made him feel like a second grade citizen.“Whenever it is felt that I have committed crimes (while vending), I have been arrested. Why must first respondent occupy this privileged position? This implicates, in my view, a breach of the equality before the law guarantee and robs me as a beneficiary of lawful conduct, of the protection of the law,” he said.
To back his case, Mudzingwa cited Section 56(1) of the Constitution which provides for the equal and fair treatment of each and every person of Zimbabwe.
Furthermore, section 56(3) that states that every person has the right not to be discriminated unfairly on such grounds as their class, political affiliation, economic or social status. He also relied on section 51 of the Constitution that provides for the inherent dignity of every person and the right to have that dignity respected and protected.
In this case, Mr Mudzingwa said he felt that his dignity would be undermined if the Minister Moyo were to evade such allegations without reason.Section 106(2)(b) and (c) of the Constitution specifically states that Ministers during their tenure of office should not act in any way that is inconsistent with their office or expose themselves to any situation involving the risk of a conflict between their official responsibilities and private interests, or use their position or any information entrusted to them to enrich themselves or improperly benefit any other person.