High Court stays ex-ZPC boss’ US$10k bribe trial

BY CHARLES LAITON

FORMER Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) board chairperson Stanley Kazhanje’s second trial over a US$10 000 bribe by businessman Wicknell Chivayo’s company, Intratek Zimbabwe, has been stayed by the High Court pending determination of his application for review.

The former power utility boss was in October last year slapped with a three-year jail term for deliberately concealing a business transaction with Intratek, but was later released on $1 000 bail pending appeal.

However, while still awaiting determination of his appeal, the Prosecutor-General’s Office preferred yet another bribery charge for which trial was supposed to commence at the Harare Magistrates Court in November 2019, but Kazhanje challenged the move prompting the recent judgment by Justice Clement Phiri.

In his chamber application, Kazhanje accused regional magistrate Obedience Maturure of having misdirected himself after throwing away his application for a trial postponement and a request for a court record of proceedings to enable him to properly defend himself against the new charge.

“The failure by the third respondent (Maturure) to order the furnishing of the applicant (Kazhanje) with necessary particulars/record for him to plead rendered the trial abortive and incapable of mustering the constitutional test for a free and fair trial,” Kazhanje said in his founding affidavit.

“The decision by the third respondent to dismiss the applicant’s application for postponement and request for a court record in ACC13/19 is highly irregular in that: In its judgment the court aquo prematurely pre-empted all of applicant’s exceptions and defences before the same had been raised and dismissed them. In so doing, the court aquo effectively denied applicant adequate time and facilities to prepare his defence as provided in section 70 (1) (c), and the attendant rights in section 70 (1) (k) and 70 (1) (m) of the Constitution.

“The court aquo erred in effectively dismissing an exception which had not yet been made. In so dismissing it consequently denied applicant the right and benefit of the law and the right to a fair, impartial and independently conducted trial as provided for in section 56 and 69 of the Constitution.”

When Justice Phiri heard the matter on December 10, 2019 he ordered a stay of the trial proceedings.

It is the State’s case that on January 16, 2016, Kazhanje allegedly received the money in order to favour payments for the controversial 100 megawatt Gwanda solar project which had been awarded to Chivayo’s company. The State alleges that Kazhanje received US$10 000 into his First Capital Bank personal account from Intratrek’s CBZ Bank account, but Kazhanje has since dismissed the allegations as unfounded.

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