The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has had its case of allegedly contravening the Exchange Control Act by dealing in foreign currency referred to the Supreme Court for determination.
This followed an application for permanent stay of criminal prosecution of the four-year-old matter by the ZCTU.
Yesterday, Harare regional magistrate Morgan Nemadire granted the application after considering submissions from both the State and the defence.
ZCTU is facing 72 counts of dealing in foreign currency in 2003 long before the country adopted the multi-currency system.
Prosecutor Michael Reza presented that on August 26 2003, the ZCTU, through its secretary-general Wellington Chibebe and one Matilda Chokuda, instructed Standard Chartered Bank of Zimbabwe to transfer $23 333 into George Alexander Othitis’ bank account in Greece.
The money was for the purchase of Lot One of stand number 269 of Gweru, to which Othitis was a co-owner.
But, ZCTU lawyer Alec Muchadehama told the court it was unjust that it had taken long for the labour body to be brought to trial.
ZCTU was first charged on June 18 2007, but commencement of the trial was set for July 25 this year, over four years later.
“It must be noted that a delay of four years is certainly enough to trigger an inquiry into the delay.
“It has been noted further by this court that a delay of four years is certainly presumptively prejudicial and an inquiry into such a delay may not be readily frivolous and vexatious,” the magistrate said, and ruled the matter had been referred to the Supreme Court for a permanent stay consideration.
The State had opposed the application, arguing that the application was “frivolous and vexatious”.
It also had been submitted that the matter was complex and therefore it took long for the police to finalise investigations.