Chief Magistrate Mr Munamato Mutevedzi has expressed concern over delays in the trial of former Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira and her ex-Permanent Secretary Ngoni Masoka on corruption-related charges, saying legal proceedings will continue “at all costs” in three weeks.
The trial failed to resume yesterday after Mupfumira’s lawyer, Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba, could not attend after calling in sick.
Prosecutor Mr Jonathan Chingwinyiso said the prosecution team was not impressed with the pace at which the trial was progressing. Mr Chingwinyiso, who is representing the State along with Mr Tafara Chirambira, said they were ready for trial and their witnesses were all in attendance.
Mr Mutevedzi said his hands were tied and he could not proceed with the trial as Mupfumira’s lawyer of choice was not feeling well.
The matter was then set for continuation of trial on November 4, 6, 9 and 10. Mupfumira and Masoka are being charged with two counts of criminal abuse of office and another count of concealing a transaction from a principal.
The case involves a US$90 000 they allegedly got from National Social Security Authority which they used to purchase a Toyota Land Cruiser sports utility vehicle instead of a Mercedes Benz.
They also allegedly ordered the purchase of air tickets worth US$10 215 to attend a wedding in South Africa before paying R113 559 for accommodation without approval. They denied the charges when the trial opened.
In denying the charges, Mupfumira told Mr Mutevedzi that there was no law that prevented Government ministries from purchasing their own cars or that barred CMED (Pvt) Ltd from buying cars on behalf of the Government.