ZCTU off the hook

HARARE - The Constitutional Court has permanently stayed the prosecution of Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU)  on 72 counts of externalising foreign currency, dating back to 2006.

The union approached the Constitutional Court, seeking the quashing of the criminal charges, arguing that its right to be tried within a reasonable time had been violated.

Prosecutor Innocent Muchini, who appeared on behalf of the State, consented to the application, leading to the full bench of nine judges granting an order in favour of ZCTU on Wednesday.

ZCTU had told the court the State was to blame for the delay.

“The accused alleges that its rights in terms of Section 18 (2) of the Constitution have been violated,” the union wrote in its application.

“It is clear that all the delays were caused by the State. The situation was either the prosecutors were not in attendance or were not ready or the witnesses were not available.”

The union, which was represented by Obey Shava, said bringing the matter to trial after several years, was highly prejudicial, considering that most of the witnesses were no longer available.

“This is a proper case for this honourable court to order a permanent stay of criminal proceedings against the applicant, as failing to do so would amount to perpetuating an illegality,” ZCTU argued.

According to an affidavit written by George Nkiwane, the ZCTU president, the matter had been rumbling on for a long time.

The State had accused the organisation of instructing Standard Chartered Bank to telegraphically transfer foreign currency outside the country, during a time when the country was still using the Zimbabwe dollar.

Zimbabwe adopted the multi-currency system in 2009, and trading in foreign currency without Central Bank approval before that period was an offence.

According to State papers, the money was transferred between 2003 and 2005.

Comments (1)

This is better written that in News Day, which never gave the ZCTU's legal arguments. This is a balanced story wherein the state and accused person(s) arguments are laid out.It also captures the court's decision.

Tshiki - 7 February 2014

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