Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) chief executive officer, Happison Muchechetere’s bid to thwart criminal prosecution on allegations of contravening procurement regulations, yesterday hit a snag at the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) after his application was removed off the roll owing to flawed court procedure adopted by his lawyers.
Muchechetere is now set to be summoned back to the Harare Magistrates’ Court for continuation of his criminal trial, which was stalled some two years ago.
The former ZBC boss had dragged President Robert Mugabe and Attorney-General Prince Machaya to the ConCourt, arguing the criminal charges he was facing of procuring the audio outside broadcasting van without going to tender, did not exist at law.
Leading the bench, Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba said Muchechetere had adopted a wrong procedure in approaching the ConCourt directly given that the magistrate, who dealt with his matter in the lower court made a determination on his application challenging his prosecution.
“This court (ConCourt) could have been approached if the court a quo [previous court] had refused or made a wrong decision, but in this case the court a quo makes a decision and refers the matter here. The question is what matter is being referred to this court?” he asked.
“The court is saying it has no jurisdiction to determine the matter in the manner it has been brought before it, the magistrate was not wrong, she made a decision and that was the end of the matter, there is no issue, it’s dead.”
Allegations against Muchechetere are that on January 18, 2013, he entered into a procurement agreement for an audio outside broadcasting van valued at $1 050 000 with the China National Instruments Imports and Exports Corporation without going to tender. On June 28, 2013, it is alleged, Muchechetere single-handedly concluded the purchase deal, after which he was issued with a commercial invoice of $1 050 000. The van was subsequently delivered on August 8, 2013.
In his defence, and through his lawyers when the trial began, Muchechetere argued that the charges he was facing did not exist at law.