Mayor, councillors trial moved to September 23


The trial of Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda and eight councillors on criminal defamation charges has been moved to September 23.
Magistrate Olivia Mariga postponed the case after both the prosecution and the defence consented saying an application related to the same issue was pending at the High Court.
The council officials applied to the High Court challenging their placement on remand.
They argued that instead of being in the dock, business tycoon Phillip Chiyangwa should be the one prosecuted for alleged shady land swap deals with council. Masunda and the councillors instituted an investigation into the acquisition of municipal land by Chiyangwa and produced a damning 54-page report accusing the property magnate and Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo of fraud.
The report was leaked to the press before it was adopted by a full council prompting Chiyangwa to file criminal defamation charges against the city fathers.
However, the council made a counter report to the police against Chiyangwa and Chombo.
It is against this background that the mayor’s legal counsel led by lawyer Alec Muchadehama made an application to the High Court seeking to stop the magistrates’ court from proceeding with the case and instead deal with the accusations at hand.
The mayor and the eight councillors are on $20 bail each.
Appearing as witnesses in the case against the mayor and his councillors are Alpha Media Holdings editor-in-chief Vincent Kahiya, The Standard newspaper editor Nevanji Madanhire and reporters Feluna Nleya, Jennifer Dube and freelance journalist Stanley Gama.
They have been subpoenaed to testify against the councillors with a view to get them to reveal who leaked the document.