BY SILENCE MUGADZAWETA
THE justice system in Zimbabwe is an oxymoron. It’s difficult to understand how the law operates, but one is tempted to conclude that incarceration in Zimbabwe is just designed for the poor and those with no money or have no political connections.
Recently, there was public outcry after serial robber Musa Taj Abdul was granted $5 000 bail.
Abdul played real life MacGyver very well. The man who played hide and seek with the police for 20 years. Whenever the police raided his hub, he would always have this magic escape, Hollywood style, the main actor coming out of flames and emerging a hero. The problem is that Abdul is a danger to society as he has an insatiable appetite for crime. He is bloodthirsty.
Abdul had earned a reputation for evading arrest and escaping police shoot-outs where his gang members were killed by police.
One such incident is the Glenara Avenue in Harare confrontation with the police where two members of his gang were gunned down. Initially, the police announced he had been arrested, but later said it was a case of mistaken identity, really?
Abdul has been on the wanted list since 1999, according to police.
On the same day, Godfrey Mupamhanga and Prince Zakeo were unlucky, they got arrested.
But through the Almighty, the highest omniscient man they praise, they were separately granted bail by the High Court.
And they did not disappoint, they both skipped bail and were to be rearrested in Beitbridge after a hot pursuit by ZRP Canine Section.
Their arrest was celebrated as a positive step towards reducing Zimbabwe’s armed robbery cases.
Of late, armed robbery cases have been rising. Ironically, in most cases it is the same people who are involved in these heinous crimes.
But, are we not giving the police a double job, wasting resources arresting and re-arresting the same people over and over again?
Maybe there were extenuating circumstances surrounding the cases, we may never know.
Certainly, the community is exposed to danger and the once safe streets are now a hub of crime.
There has been talk of high-ranking police officials on the payroll of these criminals.
The chain goes up to the criminal justice system. This is confirmed by the recent arrest of prosecutor Tapiwa Kusema, who did not oppose bail to Abdul.
Kusema was once arrested in May 2019 after facilitating the release of ex-minister Ignatious Chombo’s passport who was facing a host of corruption allegations.
The law says bail is a right, but my little understanding of law literature made me understood that bail may be granted in respect of all crimes “except a serious crime specified in the third schedule to the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act”.
Robbery is listed as one the serious crimes. However, for bail to be granted, the Prosecutor-General has to personally agree. Did Kusema act alone or he had an instruction and he became the sacrificial lamb?
On the other side, after repeated pleas and applications, Harare mayor Jacob Mafume, who is facing a criminal abuse of office charge was granted $30 000. Hopewell Chin’ono was granted $30 000, Jacob Ngarivhume $50 000.
All were denied bail three times. The two were charged with inciting the public to commit violence allegedly through a tweet.
Former Health minister Obadiah Moyo was granted $50 000 bail after being allegedly involved in a procurement scandal amounting to US$60 million, involving one Delish Nguwaya.
Other interesting cases are of former Zimra director of loss control Charlton Chihuri who was at the helm of the division for 13 years, yes 13 years, with fake qualifications. The man had four Ordinary Levels, graduated himself at the University of Zimbabwe with an economics degree, and a master’s degree with the University of Liverpool.
We heard of another Zimra loss control officer Benjamin Zenda who was employed without requisite qualifications. Zenda was head-hunted for a position which was never advertised on instructions from former Zimra commissioner Geshem Pasi.
Through Chihuri, Zimra was prejudiced to the tune of US$1,6 million. To put it plain and simple, the man committed academic fraud and earned millions of taxpayers’ money through fraudulent means.
We don’t know where Chihuri and Zenda are, but they surely lived a good life on our money and they got away with it, maybe they were arrested, we don’t know. But considering that Zimra acts in the public interest and has been notorious for garnishing tax evaders, many Zimbabweans will be happy to hear that Pasi, Zenda and Chihuri paid something to Zimra as compensation for their misdeeds. If people are hired on patronage, then it’s not surprising that many of our public entities are failing.
Recently, news broke of Zimche’s Florence Chimbumu who presented forged certificates to the higher education authority, secured employment, got promoted to chief operations officer. This beats irony. The regulator getting rigged. Can we really rely on Zimche?
Although the above cases are different, they present innuendos and nuances of a compromised judicial system, an epitome of corruption and patronage.
Naturally, there is a strong correlation between government effectiveness and control of corruption, hence, highly-corrupt institutions seemingly have huge problems delivering services, enforcing laws and representing public interest.
How is it possible that high-profile corruption cases are not accelerated or end up in the accused people being cleared of the charges but still no money would have been recovered?
Apart from disrupting an efficient justice system, corruption impedes economic development as funds are diverted from productive uses to the pockets of officials with political links.
Corruption has distorted Zimbabwe’s political order. Negative perceptions, especially knowledge that public officials are corrupt shrinks the legitimacy of a government in the eyes of the public.
Follow Silence on Twitter @Mugadza40