Mnangagwa to decide on Mupfumira ministerial position- Legal experts

Legal experts say the ball is now in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s court to decide whether to fire Tourism minister Priscah Mupfumira now or wait until a final conviction is handed down.

Legal experts told this publication that in other jurisdiction Mupfumira could have resigned on the day she was arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission (ZACC) on Thursday.

Mupfumira could have just resigned on Thursday,” said one lawyer.

In other jurisdictions ministers resign for merely being mentioned even on social media. Now Mupfumira has been slapped with 21 days in custody and she is still mum over her position.”

Another lawyer said Mnangagwa, who is spearheading the fight against graft must take this opportunity and fire his minister.

Before any arrest is made on the minister, the president is briefed, so in this case he is very much aware of what is happening.

If he is to instill confidence in the fight against corruption then he should just fire Mupfumira now.

Acting chief magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi on Saturday slapped Mupfumira with 21 days incarceration as the state is investigating her US$95 million corruption scandal.

Mupfumira is facing seven counts of criminal abuse of office all of which were committed when she was the minister of Public Service, Labour and Social welfare, prejudicing the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) of money amounting to US$95 million.

Mupfumira was arrested on Thursday by a crack team comprising of members of the Military Intelligence Department (MID), Central Investigation Department (CID), Central Intelligence Officers (CIO), Zimbabwe Republic Police law and order and the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) on the instruction of the Zimbabwe Anti -Corruption Commission.

The matter was postponed to 9 August. Munamato said issues that were raised by the defense council are pertinent.

Munamato said further detention is necessary.
“I therefore order the detention of the accused person for 21 days,” said Munamato.

Allegations are that in 2014, following her appointment as the minister of public service labour and social welfare, she intentionally acted contrary to her duties as a public officer  by verbally instructing the then permanent secretary in her ministry Ngoni Masoka to get a loan advance of USD$90 000 from NSSA.

NSSA being a parastatal under her ministry availed the loan advance which was intended for the purchase of her ministerial vehicle, a Toyota Landcruiser model ADX-0878 from Croco Motors as per her instructions.

It is alleged that Mupfumira allegedly did this regardless of the fact that NSSA had no provisions to issue such loans.

After the purchase of the Landcruiser, she went on to receive another ministerial vehicle, a Range Rover which was availed to her by government and she accepted it knowing well that she had already bought another one through the NSSA loan she was still servicing.

It is further alleged that sometime in 2016 and on different occasions and in the exercise of her functions as the minister, she intentionally acted contrary to her duties as a public officer by corruptly requesting for US$101 814.80 from NSSA’s corporate social responsibilities budget to use for activities believed to be advances to the parent ministry.

Mupfumira is alleged to have verbally directed NSSA outside of its mandate to set up a budget of US$350 000 for the ministry’s financial demands on top of the normal NSSA’s corporate social responsibility budget from where she later claimed a total of US$303 520.03 for her personal and political interests in her constituency in 2017.