By Dr Masimba Mavaza | Ex-Health minister, Dr Obadiah Moyo was acquitted as a US$60 million trial collapsed, ‘God is faithful,’ were the words he could utter soon after his acquittal.
Dr Obadiah Moyo is a Zimbabwean politician and former hospital administrator. In 2018, he was appointed the country’s Minister of Health and Child Care. On the 19th of June 2020, he was falsely arrested and charged with three counts of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer, for his alleged participation in a scam that involves tens of millions of dollars.
After spending the night in police cells, he posted $50 000.00 bail. Because of these false allegations which were motivated by Hopewell Chin’ono the president cde Emmerson Mnangagwa dismissed Moyo from the office of Cabinet Minister, removing him for “conduct inappropriate for a Government Minister.
Despite all this Dr Moyo remained a visionary and creative leader with a proven record of accomplishment in both medical and executive management. He is an experienced healthcare administrator who adopts a professional “hands on” approach. He is skilled in problem solving and obtaining achievements by using initiative and drive to gain results.
He is considered as a leading medical strategist in Zimbabwe. He won several international awards in recognition of his contribution to the international society in Nephrology and Pathology.
Through his achievements, he is rated as an eminent strategist in the medical industry in Zimbabwe and the region. Educated in Zimbabwe, United Kingdom and the West Indies, Dr. Moyo earned several academic qualifications and is a registered Renal Specialist, Consultant Chemical Pathologist.
His former experience includes being
• Deputy President of the Health Professions Authority of Zimbabwe.
• President of Health Professions Authority of Zimbabwe.
• Founder member of the World Council for Renal Care, and founder of the Zimbabwe Kidney Foundation Renal Services where he served as the Chairman and Executive Director.
• Chief Executive Officer of Chitungwiza Central Hospital in September 2005 a position he held until his appointment as Minister of Health and Child Care. During this time he received several honours, including in 2018 overall Zimbabwe Businessman of the year, and Zimbabwe Community leader of the year.
• Chairman of Council for the Chinhoyi University of Technology.
With all these achievements Dr Moyo saw his life being destroyed by a Twitter and overzealous ZACC incompetent officers who were interested in humiliating people and get arrests.
ZACC officers have caused more embarrassment to the war against corruption such that many have lost confidence in the ZACC system of operation. The term catch and release was coined because of what ZACC does to the accused without applying the law and due diligence.
Although each arrest has different circumstances, the reaction of family members and friends can be similar.
Arrest is usually the first stage of the criminal justice process it is when the Police carry out the initial questioning of someone suspected of a crime or an offence. In Zimbabwe ZACC has powers of arrest and unfortunately these powers are mostly abused.
The arrest of a loved one can be a very traumatic and difficult time.
Sometimes your loved one is arrested at the family home which can have a major impact on the family members, especially the children. If they witness the arrest, they may feel very anxious and distressed.
When dealing with allegations of criminal offences against persons of public interest there is a need to maintain clear public recognition of ZACC’s independence.
These cases have particular potential for attracting allegations of inconsistency, because the arrested is a high ranking public figure. But behind any public figure there a human being a father a husband a person. It is therefore important to maintain highest standards of decision making, to apply any casework standards at all stages and to ensure that case decisions are consistent with existing procedures. This idea of rushing to arrest because you can is satanic demonic and total inconsiderate.
Concern about cases of wrongful arrests has arisen in Zimbabwe and this is more prevalent in cases involving government officials or high profile persons. Some wrongly arrested individuals have spent many years in mental prisons before their charges are quashed, but little is known about the psychological effects of such miscarriages of justice on them. Substantial psychiatric morbidity and problems of psychological and social adjustment has not been considered in such cases. The difficulties of the wrongly arrested and their families are similar to those described in the clinical literature concerning other groups, such as war veterans, who have been exposed to chronic psychological trauma but the wrongly arrested or convicted do not receive such sympathy. Many people believe that once you are cleared you are fine and you should be happy about that. We always miss the most important and relevant point of the effects of long-term accusations are manifested after release from such charges by court.
Being arrested paraded in every newspaper and become a laughing stock can be an extraordinarily stressful psychological trauma.
False arrest and imprisonment can be an extraordinarily traumatic event.
It is very clearly that there is a serious psychological impairment which follows false arrest and imprisonment.
Although no clear pattern emerges, a common scenario begins with a Twitter purporting to be exposing corruption then a knock on the door and the totally unexpected confrontation with the police waving an arrest warrant for an alleged crime. The individual is summarily arrested, taken into custody, handcuffed and placed in the back of a police vehicle, sometimes in a full view of the international and national and local press.
Following booking and extreme embarrassment, the victim of a false arrest may be placed in jail, unless bail can be posted immediately and release obtained he will be placed in remand prison.
If immediate release is not obtained, the false arrest victim who is often utterly confused and terrified must face the dangers of jail, some of which can be lethal. For example, the risk of suicide within the first 24 hours of incarceration is well known.Fears of physical and sexual assault with the possibility of contracting the HIV virus are very real. If the false arrest victim is alone in a cell, fear and exhaustion may further heighten feelings of isolation, terror, and helplessness. Time sense is often lost a sudden change of environment loss of control of one’s life, even taking a
showers, delousing, being required to wear jailhouse clothes, and inedible food may produce a profound sense of humiliation and threat to one’s personal identity.
Being unexpectedly wrenched from one’s normal, expectable existence and plunged into the sheer terror of imprisonment without apparent reason is a highly traumatic, experience. This extreme, abrupt discontinuity in a person’s life experience is capable of producing psychiatric disorder, particularly dissociative disorder.
The former minister of Health became one of many people who have been falsely accused and arrested for crimes they did not commit. For weeks following the arrest, Dr Obadiah Moyo experiences flashbacks and nightmares of the arrest and incarceration and facing the social court. The flashbacks may occur when someone comes to the front door and knocks or rings the bell or when the news bulletin starts to flash on the Television. Dr Moyo have had a torrid time not wanting to be in the public. Some former friends and neighbors shun him and his family. Despite the fact that he was innocent from the beginning.
Dr Obadiah Moyo is totally exonerated, he feels that doubt has been cast upon his good character.
No one is putting a thought on Dr Moyo’s children who were taunted by some of their peers. Does anyone give a thought on his wife who continues to feel embarrassed and ashamed, avoiding her former friends in the community.
The actual circumstances of the arrest, the trauma to family members who cannot comprehend what has happened, personal embarrassment and humiliation (“treated like a criminal”), adverse publicity, and the incarceration experience itself are significant psychological stressors. The family itself may be so traumatized as to be emotionally unavailable to the arrest victim on his or her release. The problem we face is that To arrest you the police need reasonable grounds to suspect you’re involved in a crime for which your arrest is necessary.
The police have powers to arrest you anywhere and at any time, including on the street, at home or at work. But ZACC officer only need Twitter from Hopewell Chin’ono and a disgruntled permanent secretary to arrest the whole minister and embarrass him without applying the law at all.
After this protracted embarrassment Dr Obadiah Moyo was acquitted by the High Court.
At the start of Dr Moyo’s trial, Justice Pisirayi Kwenda sitting in Harare High Court tossed out the charges. This is what we have been saying all along when this writer said the charges were imprecise and did not disclose a criminal offence.
Dr Moyo was arrested for his alleged dealings with Drax International LLC, Papi Pharma and Drax Consult SAGL, companies, which ZACC claimed were illegally awarded contracts by the health ministry without a competitive tender process.
Another victim of such arrests without investigations Delish Nguwaya, a local representative of Drax International, was arrested as part of the same investigation, but his trial collapsed as well. The Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara said the charges “could only be described as… inimical to the law, irregular in form and susceptible to impugnment”.
It has always been clear that the charges on “all three counts are not clear on what Dr Moyo did in the awarding of the contracts and which rules he had broken.”
From the beginning it showed that the contracts were done by the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, and as such Moyo could not be held accountable for their actions.
“The minister was not involved in the decisions,” said Zhuwarara, who asked Justice Kwenda to acquit Moyo.
In a professional manner and true judgeship the judge cornered prosecutor Garudzo Ziyadhuma to explain how Moyo influenced the awarding of the contracts. He also asked Ziyadhuma to explain what the word “influence” means leading to a concession by the prosecutor that the charges were imprecise and badly drafted. The question is why was the case allowed to even go up to the High Court.
Since his arrest, the former minister and former Chitungwiza General Hospital CEO had been frequenting the courts without a trial date being set.
The whole saga to Dr Moyo was
Profoundly terrifying. Deeply shocking. It shook him to the very core and the effects will be with him for a long time. The entire event had started assuming that feeling of unreality that tends to accompany truly bad things. “Was that real? Did that happen? That couldn’t have been real. That couldn’t have just happened to him. There’s no way. Is our country in a hallucinating mood.One of the single worst experiences of anybody’s life – not from an events standpoint or even a consequences standpoint considering that the subsequent court visits were very nearly as shocking, and left him financially devastated. This did not only leave Dr Moyo financially down but emotionally wounded.
Too much power can wreak havoc to an otherwise a better Commission like ZACC. The only way to stop abuse of power is to have checks and balances, there should be checks on how ZACC use their powers of arrest. There should be a section in the Prosecution department telling ZACC that they need a reality check, this is not tyrant ville.
A good organisation can abuse power if they are unaware of the negative effects of their decisions. This is why it is dangerous for any organization with an abuse of leadership to be surrounded only by people who agree with everything that is said and done, not to question logic reasoning from what is right from wrong.
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission [ZACC] has been outing the government at the receiving end of insults and derision from the general public, which feel it is doing less than it should to contain corruption. In an attempt to strengthen ZACC by giving its officers more powers, on 28th June, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs gazetted Statutory Instrument 143/2019, the Criminal Procedure and Evidence (Designation of Peace Officers) (Amendment) Notice, 2019 (No. 3) [link], which designates ZACC’s officers as “peace officers” for all purposes under the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.
SI 143 does not explain the legal consequence of making ZACC officers “peace officers”, and to understand it one must look at the Act under which it was made, the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.
Peace officers and their powers
The Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act gives law enforcement powers to what it calls “peace officers”, a broad class of officials including police officers, prison officers, immigration officers and traditional leaders. The Act allows the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to designate other persons as peace officers, and that is what he did for ZACC’s officers in SI 143.
Arrest must be for a proper purpose: Peace officers should not arrest people automatically even if they have reasonable grounds to believe they have committed a crime. Persons may be arrested to ensure they appear in court and stand trial, or to stop them committing a crime or interfering with the evidence. The power of arrest, in other words, must be exercised carefully and reasonably.
ZACC is a constitutional commission and its functions are laid down in the Constitution. It is possible to extend those functions through section 321 of the Constitution, which states that “An Act of Parliament may confer additional functions on a Commission”; but SI 143 is not an Act of Parliament even though it is made in terms of one.
SI 143 is yet another of the statutory instruments published recently to give effect to important government programmes ‒ in this case the anti-corruption drive whose legality is open to doubt. Ministers who need legislation to underpin their policies would be better advised to approach Parliament and persuade it to pass an appropriate Act of Parliament, rather than resorting to statutory instruments which are open to legal challenge.
The behaviour of ZACC has become very intimidatory and totally unreasonable. The ZACC officers must take courses in criminal law before they form a conclusion that a person needs to be arrested. The problem with ZACC is that it is the law unto itself, like any other commission it must not be allowed to be above the law.
Dr Obadiah Moyo was lucky his God was faithful. What about those who are not that lucky. The first step to fight corruption is to train those who will enforce the laws. Emotional arrests and playing to the gallery is satanic. In most cases the unprofessional overzealous ZACC officers descend into the arena and get blinded by the dust of the of the game.