Acquittals reveal flaws in Magistrate’s Court

Three MDC-T legislators have been acquitted by the High Court recently, after being convicted in a regional magistrates’ court.

Mathias Mlambo, MP for Chipinge East, Shuwa Mudiwa, MP for Mutare West and Meki Makuyana, MP for Chipinge South have all been exonerated by the High Court.

They were convicted by the late Samuel Zuze, a well-known Zanu (PF) activist based in Chipinge. Several political cases in which he made judgement were later overturned during review by the High Court.

The convictions of the MPs weakened the MDC in Parliament, where the party’s numbers were reduced almost to parity with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF). Once convicted in any court, an MP is suspended from Parliament, pending appeal to a higher court.

In an exclusive interview a cheerful Makuyana said the High Court ruling was a victory for the people of Chipinge South, whose voice had been silenced for almost 36 months during the current Parliament.

“Three years is not a joke without representation. Even though I was elected to represent the people I was not able to take their views to Parliament,” he said. Throughout that time, however, he continued interacting with his constituents.

Makuyana, who spent years seeking justice, urged revision and oversight of the magisterial system, which he said was being abused for political reasons.

“The MDC is sometimes at the mercy of the courts,” he said.

Scores of MDC-T activists, including National Youth Chairman Solomon Madzore, are still in prison on trumped up charges of murdering a police officer in Glen View last year.

Analysts say that the application of the law in Zimbabwe is compromised. Since the inception of the Government of National Unity, the President has unilaterally appointed judges without consulting Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, as he pledged to do by signing the Gobal Political Agreement.

Last year, several senior MDC officials, including Minister of Energy Elton Mangoma, Minister of State Jameson Timba and co-Minister of National Healing Moses Mzila-Ndlovu were arrested and spent several weeks in prison facing corruption charges.

But Minister of Local Government Ignatius Chombo was never questioned or apprehended after revelations of his enormous and questionable wealth were made public.

MDC-T Secretary General and Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, and the party’s President, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, are under investigation for corruption and could face arrest.

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