Media blackout on hearing

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Kwekwe municipality town clerk Emmanuel Musara has imposed a media blackout into the inquiry of suspended city treasurer Albert Zingwe.

He announced the blackout when the inquiry resumed on Wednesday saying it was a private matter.

Musara turned away reporters from covering the inquiry even after Zingwe’s defence team led by Martin Makonese indicated the treasurer had no problem with the media attending the hearing.

Council declared the inquiry into allegations that Zingwe stole over $26 000 by paying for goods allegedly not delivered to the local authority, a private issue.

The embattled treasurer faces nine charges related to theft, fraud and insubordination.

“The town clerk has said journalists are not allowed to cover this matter because it’s closed from the public,” said a council official.

“What council will do is release the verdict at the end of the inquiry. This is strictly a private hearing.”

Musara refused to meet the media or explain why the inquiry was being held in private.

He even refused to have the chairman of the three-member inquiry, Kwekwe-based magistrate Tendai Mahwe, determine whether the media could be allowed access into the hearing or not.

The other members of the inquiry are Kadoma city treasurer Malvin Dondo and the Masvingo city treasurer.

“We don’t take orders from the chairman of the inquiry, the town clerk has the final authority and he says no media in this hearing,” said the official.

Makonese said his client was innocent and had nothing to hide and therefore did not object to having the media present.

“We are talking of public funds and public officials and the media should be allowed to come in and hear for themselves so that they can come out with well-informed articles,” he said.

“My client had no objection to that and we are surprised to hear council has a problem with that.”

Sources who attended the inquiry said Kwekwe council chamber secretary Lucia Mkandla led evidence against Zingwe before Makonese opened his client’s defence.

Makonese is expected to play an audio recording involving a close friend of Musara, Dr Alva Senderayi, who was recorded alleging he had been sent by Musara to try and convince Zingwe to resign or face an inglorious exit.

The recording was made three months before Zingwe was officially charged and suspended from council.

This is after he had allegedly refused to consent to the deal offered on behalf of Musara by Senderayi.

The inquiry continues on Thursday.