State bid flops…Mangoma released

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Minister of Energy Elton Mangoma was Monday freed on bail and will be able to return to work after efforts by the State to keep him behind bars and to bar him from attending to his ministerial duties failed.

Mangoma was released from Harare Remand Prison after spending two weeks behind bars following his indictment for trial on allegations of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.

High Court judge Justice Joseph Musakwa dismissed the state’s application for leave to appeal.

“An application of this nature is based on prospects of success,” the judge said. “From a reading of (Justice Yunus) Omerjee’s ruling, it does not appear that the state established any facts on which it grounded its fear that there was a likelihood that the respondent (Mangoma) might interfere with witnesses. I am of the considered view that the intended appeal enjoys no prospects of success.”

Besides the prospect of success, Justice Musakwa said the application by the Attorney-General was defective.

He said the application sought leave to appeal against the bail condition which required Mangoma to be barred from reporting at his workplace when in fact there was no such condition imposed.

Justice Musakwa further said the application by the Attorney-General was titled “In the High Court of Zimbabwe” whereas an appeal against a decision of the High Court goes to the Supreme Court.

The minister’s release came about after a protracted battle between the Attorney-General and Mangoma’s lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa and Selby Hwacha.

Mangoma’s incarceration was characterised by intriguing drama at the High Court.

Last week, he failed to appear before Justice Chinembiri Bhunu for his hearing after the State claimed there was no fuel to bring the minister to court.

As his bail application was being heard in a different court where principal law officer Tawanda Zvekare submitted before Justice Omerjee that the state was not opposed to bail, the state proceeded to invoke Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, after Justice Omerjee granted Mangoma bail.

Zvekare had consented to bail on condition that Mangoma would be barred from attending to his ministerial duties until the matter was finalised, a move which was strongly opposed by Hwacha.

The invocation of Section 121 effectively meant Mangoma would remain behind bars for seven days awaiting the state’s appeal against Justice Omerjee’s order.
Mangoma is accused of cancelling a Zesa tender which was awaiting announcement of the winner in a move the state alleges was done to show a disfavour to a winning company.
In the first case, he is accused of having procured fuel without going to tender.