The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has dragged court officials including magistrates, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and acting Prosecutor-General Nelson Mutsonziwa, after bail conditions of Cottco official Maxmore Njanji, who faces a fraud charge involving US$5,8 million were changed under unclear circumstances.
Zacc also cited the clerk of court, magistrates Taurai Manuwere and Marehwanazvo Gofa, senior regional magistrate Ngoni Nduna, chief magistrate Faith Mushure, JSC, NPA and Njanji as respondents, respectively.
In an application filed through its executive secretary Sukai Tongogara on September 23, Zacc said it wanted to be furnished with September 21 record of court proceedings that led to the release of Njanji’s passport.
“This is an urgent application for a mandatory interdict to compel the first respondent to furnish applicant with record of court proceedings conducted on the 21st of September 2022 under CRB No 243/22 within 24 hours from the date of the order sought herein and that the ninth respondent’s passport shall remain in the first respondent’s custody until the matter under CRB No ACC 243/22 is finalised,” Tongogara submitted.
Njanji is being charged alongside Zanu-PF legislator Mayor Wadyajena and Cottco executives Pious Manamike, Fortunate Molai and Chiedza Danha director for Pierpont Moncroix Mauritius.
They are on $200 000 bail each.
Tongogara said Zacc’s urgent chamber application was motivated by its Constitutional mandate to secure the arrest and conviction of all persons suspected of corruption, abuse of power and other improper conduct which falls within its jurisdiction.
The anti-graft body said it was supposed to be notified of any applications that might seek to vary bail conditions of accused persons whom it would have investigated for offences relating to corruption.
“The purported application made by the ninth respondent to compel release of passport by first respondent and another order made by the third respondent in the circumstances is unknown to the applicant to date. The applicant was not made aware of these applications in question and was never afforded an opportunity to represent its interests,” Tongogara said.
“. . . the applicant was left with no other choice but to approach this court on an urgent basis with regards to the said proceedings held on the 21st of September 2022 before the third respondent.
“The basis of this application is premised on the applicant’s constitutional interest emanating from its mandate to arrest and secure prosecution of persons reasonable suspected of corruption, abuse of power and other improper conduct which falls within the applicant’s jurisdiction.”
Tongogara said Njanji’s bail conditions should never have been varied as that would jeopardise investigations.
“Manuwere had ordered a temporary release of Njanji’s passport until September 30 for travelling outside the country pursuant to an application for variation of bail conditions by the NPA and the Prosecutor-General wherein Zacc was never consulted,” Tongogara submitted.
“Given the nature and magnitude of the offence which involves money laundering in another territory including South Africa, Zacc holds the position that the conditions of bail should never have been varied without its knowledge or input.”
She added: “Furthermore, the apparent inconsistencies that arise from this unfortunate occurrence requires urgent protection of Zacc’s constitutional mandate to, among other things, fight corruption and the contribution to the administration of justice. The matter cannot, therefore, wait; it ought to be determined on an urgent basis.
“I am convinced that if this honourable court does not urgently order the clerk of court to avail the record of proceedings of the 21st of September 2022, Zacc’s constitutional mandate will be in jeopardy.”