BY CHARLES LAITON
Tourism and Hospitality minister Priscah Mupfumira, who is facing criminal abuse of office charges after she allegedly swindled the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) of over US$95 565 000, is expected to appear at the High Court today for her bail application.
Initially, the bail hearing had been set for yesterday, but Prosecutor-General (PG)’s representative, chief law officer, Sharon Fero told High Court judge
Justice Erica Ndewere that the State had been served with Mupfumira’s application late on Wednesday and as such she had not been accorded enough time to
prepare to argue the matter.
The Cabinet minister, who is also Senator for Mashonaland West Province, was remanded in custody after the PG, Kumbirai Hodzi, issued a special certificate
requesting acting Chief Magistrate, Munamato Mutevedzi, to detain her for 21 days pending investigations into the Nssa saga.
Mupfumira is accused of having misappropriated the cash while she was Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, but she has since dismissed the
allegations as an attempt by the State to sensationalise the matter.
In her application filed at the High Court, through her lawyer Advocate Lewis Uriri, instructed by Chinyama and Partners, Mupfumira maintained that the State’s
evidence against her was fanciful, porous and weak.
“The State case is fanciful, porous as has been shown above. The State failed to effectively reply to these criticisms, preferring to hide behind the lame
excuse that these are triable issues to be determined at trial. With respect, the relative strengths of the State and defence cases are a relevant
consideration. The State’s refusal to relate thereto must be to the applicant’s (Mupfumira) benefit,” Uriri said.
“In terms of the figures, the offence might seem great, but those figures were just thrown into the air with no relationship whatsoever with the applicant
(Mupfumira). This could be a malicious astute way of sensitising the matter and emotionalise the public, with a view to aggravate this bare allegation so that
the court will be reluctant to grant her liberty, which attempt has so far been successful in the lower court.”
The minister dismissed all the claims by the State, arguing that the State is making bold assertions that are not backed by any evidence, adding that since she
was not an accounting officer, there was nowhere she could have influenced the Nssa board to part ways with such huge sums of money.