Ex-minister Parirenyatwa freedom bid falls flat

By Desmond Chingarande

A HARARE magistrate yesterday dismissed an application for removal from remand filed by former Health minister David Parirenyatwa who is facing a charge of criminal abuse of office.

Parirenyatwa, who was represented by Innocent Chingarande, told the court that the trial had failed to resume on several occasions and had been postponed 10 times due to the absence of the magistrate.

The matter is being handled by magistrate Elijah Makomo who has not been feeling well.

Chingarande asked the court to remove his client from remand, adding that he would be available whenever the court needed him and could be summoned when the trial magistrate returned to work.

But the State opposed the application, saying the magistrate was supposed to go to South Africa for medical examination and was expected back next month, making it possible for trial to resume.

“The magistrate dealing with the matter is not feeling well and he is expecting to go to South Africa for medical examination, so we ask the matter to be moved to a day in May where we expect him to be back,” Brian Vito, representing the State said.

“Even if the court insists to proceed to trial today, we will not be in a position to continue with the trial because the accused’s lawyer is not available,” Vito further said.

Magistrate Stanford Mambanje said: “The trial has been also stalled by the lockdown and most court processes have been laid off due to the pandemic. Upon realisation of lockdown, the court can only postpone the matter to a later date.”

“The defence, who made this application, is standing in for another lawyer who is the lead counsel and there is no word in court that Chingarande is taking over the matter. It is unfair to blame one part for delays.”

The matter was postponed to May 14 for trial continuation.

Allegations are that Parirenyatwa abused his position as a public officer and directed NatPharm board chairperson George Washaya to terminate the contract of Flora Sifeku as managing director, allegedly showing favour to Newman Madzikwa, who had been sacked from the pharmaceutical company for selling donated drugs.

At the time he was fired in September 2009, Madzikwa was NatPharm’s Masvingo branch manager.

The State alleges that Parirenyatwa had indicated that he required Sifeku’s services at the Health ministry’s head office for an indefinite period.

The NatPharm board complied with Parirenyatwa’s directive and gave both Sifeku and Madzikwa six-month contracts as managing directors.

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