Daniel Nemukuyu, Harare Bureau
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo’s Constitutional Court record is in shambles and the court has directed him to put his papers in order, in sync with the rules governing the operations of the apex court.
Prof Moyo, who is challenging the legality of his arrest by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission on allegations of swindling Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) of nearly $500 000, violated the rules of the Constitutional Court in filing his papers.
The nine-member bench picked that Prof Moyo’s lawyers failed to properly paginate the record as required by the rules of the court.
It was found that the minister’s lawyers did not bind the papers, in breach of another rule of the court.
To that end, the court indefinitely postponed the matter to allow the minister to sort out his mess.
Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba ordered Minister Moyo to pay wasted costs.
“By consent, the application is postponed sine die (indefinitely) and the applicant to pay wasted costs in respect of the fourth respondent,” ruled Justice Malaba.
A bid by Minister Moyo’s lawyers to defend their position by accusing a nameless registrar at the Constitutional Court of allowing them to file the “haphazard” application, was not entertained.
Justice Malaba blasted the lawyers for knowingly breaching the rules.
“Can a lawyer, who knows the law decide to disregard the rules and obey a registrar to file a defective application?” he said. “The registrar has no power to allow such a practice. The rules of the court do not allow you to have such a mental attitude.”
Advocate Lewis Uriri, who appeared on behalf of Minister Moyo, told the court that his instructing attorneys had acted in terms of advice from an unnamed registrar.
He conceded the error and quickly sought permission to rectify it.
Minister Moyo, his deputy Dr Godfrey Gandawa and Zimdef finance director Nicholas Mapute, stand accused of abusing nearly $500 000 belonging to Zimdef.
They were arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc).
Dr Gandawa and Mapute have since been placed on remand at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts.
Before the trio’s court appearance date, Prof Moyo instructed his lawyer Mr Terrence Hussein to file an urgent interdict at the Constitutional Court.
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, in his chambers, temporarily stayed the prosecution pending determination of the main constitutional challenge.
In his main application, Minister Moyo is questioning the constitutionality of his arrest by Zacc and the role played by the police.
He argues that Zacc does not, in terms of the Constitution, have the power to arrest and detain suspects.
He also argues that the Acting Prosecutor General Advocate Ray Goba did not, in terms of the Constitution, have the power to order the police to arrest an individual.
He sought to stop his appearance in court, describing it as illegal. The investigating officer Sergeant Munyaradzi Chacha, he argued, could not be part of Zacc and the police at the same time, while Mr Goba had no power to order his arrest.
Adv Goba said criminal allegations against Minister Moyo were well-substantiated and urged the Constitutional Court to issue an order compelling him to appear before a magistrate in terms of the law within 24 hours of the issuance of the order to answer to the charges.