FORMER Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, who is facing a charge of criminal abuse of office, will go on trial on January 23, 2020.
BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
Magistrate Hosea Mujaya yesterday set the trial date and also dismissed Mphoko’s application for referral to the Constitutional Court (ConCourt), where he wanted the court to rule on whether he was still entitled to presidential immunity as stipulated by section 98 of the Constitution.
Mphoko’s lawyer, Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara submitted that they wanted legal clarity so that the court could deal with facts.
“Whether presidential immunity, as set out in section 98 of the Constitution, extends to acts and/or omissions by the Vice-President (and former Vice-President), who alleges and intends to prove that such acts or omissions during the discharge of his or her duties were actuated in accordance with section 99 of the Constitution,” Zhuwarara said.
The State, represented by Lovark Masuku, told the court that if the facts are not disputed, no issue would have arisen in the matter and the defence of good faith could be heard in the trial court not in the ConCourt.
The State argued that Mphoko’s request for referral does not raise an issue of fundamental human rights, therefore, the issue of immunity does not exist since he is now out of office.
But Zhuwarara insisted that his client was entitled to immunity.
Mphoko is facing a charge of criminal abuse of office after he, on July 14, 2016, allegedly instructed police officers at Avondale Police Station in Harare to release two Zimbabwe National Road Administration officials from holding cells without following procedure while he was Acting President.