Chidakwa freed on bail

HARARE - A magistrate freed former Mines and Mining Development  minister Walter Chidakwa on bail yesterday on charges of criminal abuse of duty which allegedly prejudiced the State of $28 910.

The 53-year-old, a senior member of the Generation 40 faction of the ruling party that was targeted in the military’s November 15 intervention, was arrested from his home on Wednesday and was held at Rhodesville Police Station.

He was charged with fraud and abuse of office relating to his time as a government minister. Chidakwa was granted bail by Harare magistrate Josephine Sande after noting that the State had failed to provide compelling reasons justifying his continued detention in custody.

It is the state’s case that sometime in 2013, Chidakwa corruptly dissolved the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) board.

The court heard that Chidakwa, who was the minister responsible for the parastatal, abused office by corruptly appointing Francis Gudyanga to act as MMCZ board from the period between December 2013 to September 2016.

According to the MMCZ Act Chapter 21:04, a board must constitute a minimum of six board members and a maximum of ten board members.

Contrary to this Act, Chidakwa allegedly appointed a single person to act as a board, thereby abusing his duty as a public officer.

It is the State’s case that Gudyanga who had been unproceduraly appointed by the accused went on to corruptly claim an amount of $28 910 as board and sitting fees when no board was in existence to the prejudice of the MMCZ.

The State through public prosecutor Tapiwa Kusema had opposed bail arguing that Chidakwa is a “man of means” and has “international connections”and would flee and abscond trial if granted bail.

However, defence counsel Sylvester Hashiti, dismissed the State’s reasoning as “mere conjecture” adding that the State had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Chidakwa was a flight risk.

“The accused was in Belgium when Operation Restore Legacy began but he came back home. News of Prof Gudyanga’s arrest was publicised but he never fled. He has been cooperating…

“The main character at the centre of this issue, Prof Gudyanga, was granted bail and my client did not flee. He has been cooperating with Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc). Zacc called him and he voluntarily went to their office,” said Hashiti.

The matter was remanded to January 4, with Hashiti giving notice that he will challenge the lawfulness of his client’s arrest by the Zacc.

 

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