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Walter Magaya fails to shake off rape trial

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Walter Magaya

The High Court has dismissed an application for leave to appeal at the Supreme Court by Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries founder Walter Magaya who is challenging the decision to continue prosecuting him for allegedly raping a congregant.

Magaya, who is represented by Advocate Thabani Mpofu instructed by Rubaya and Chatambudza Legal Practitioners, in April filed an application at the Harare High Court challenging the State’s decision to continue with his prosecution in light of the complainant’s confession that she had filed a false rape report against him.

The alleged victim and prime witness in the matter, Petronella Donhodzo Mandaza, has since sued Prosecutor-General Ray Goba at the same court contesting the State’s decision to subpoena her, arguing she is no longer a complainant in the matter having confessed to falsely accusing Magaya of rape. Harare High Court judge Justice Emy Tsanga ruled that Magaya’s application lacks merit. She said conducting the trial, which started on April 3 this year is within the dictates of the constitution.

“The application for leave to appeal lacks merit. The legal provisions and procedures laid out in the Criminal Evidence and Procedure Act on the conduct of a criminal trial do not in any way interfere with the accused’s right to a fair trial,” she said. The judge said there was nothing unconstitutional about the State proceeding with the trial on the basis of a reasonable suspicion that a crime had been committed.

“Applicant appears to have been led to misconstrue his right as is the liberty to do whatever he wants to do as the basis of constitutionalism as opposed to doing what is correct within the confines of appropriate procedures laid down in the law. Furthermore, whether or not his constitutional rights have been or are being violated can only be properly assessed once this court has heard the State case against him from the evidence,” said Justice Tsanga.

In dismissingWalter Magaya’s application, Justice Tsanga said the proportionality analysis is key in deciding whether the infringements of rights complained of are either justified or unjustified.

“The court is then seized with a criminal trial and must pre-emptively hold that the trial should not take place when the State itself says it has reasonable grounds for suspecting that a crime was committed. The trial should therefore proceed and the application for leave to appeal lacks merit and is accordingly dismissed,” ruled the judge.

Walter Magaya in his application wanted the court to acquit him on the grounds of the confession made by Mandaza under oath. He argued that the State had no basis to continue with the trial, saying it was unconstitutional under the circumstances. In his affidavit, Magaya said having already pleaded to the charges, he was entitled to his acquittal in terms of section 180(6) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.

Magaya said there is also an affidavit which supports an application made by the complainant in which she states that she was never raped.
Magaya queried why the prosecution wanted to have its star witness arrested when she had filed an application seeking to be excused from testifying, saying the move was meant to violate his rights.

He argued that there are certain constitutional questions he strongly feels the High Court should determine. Walter Magaya wanted the court to determine whether or not the decision of the prosecution to bring him to trial amounted to harassment and in breach of the protection of the law guaranteed as encapsulated in section 56(1) of the Constitution and, therefore, an abuse of court process. He cited several constitutional provisions in an attempt to prove that his rights were being violated.

The State, through the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), opposed the application saying it was unprocedural. The State said the order sought by Walter Magaya was a mockery to the criminal justice system in that he wanted a dismissal of his matter without a hearing yet he had a case to answer.

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BUSINESS

Zimbabwe agrees to pay $3.5 billion compensation to white farmers

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Zimbabwe White Farmers

Zimbabwe agreed on Wednesday to pay $3.5 billion in compensation to Zimbabwe white farmers whose land was expropriated by the government to resettle black families, moving a step closer to resolving one the most divisive policies of the Robert Mugabe era.

But the southern African nation does not have the money and will issue long term bonds and jointly approach international donors with the farmers to raise funding, according to the compensation agreement.

Two decades ago Mugabe’s government carried out at times violent evictions of 4,500 Zimbabwe white farmers and redistributed the land to around 300,000 Black families, arguing it was redressing colonial land imbalances.

The agreement signed at President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s State House offices in Harare showed white farmers would be compensated for infrastructure on the farms and not the land itself, as per the national constitution.

Details of how much money each farmer, or their descendants, given the time elapsed since the farms were seized, was likely to get were not yet clear, but the government has said it would prioritise the elderly when making the settlements.

Farmers would receive 50% of the compensation after a year and the balance within five years. Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube and acting Agriculture Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri signed on behalf of the government, while farmers unions and a foreign consortium that undertook valuations also penned the agreement.

“As Zimbabweans, we have chosen to resolve this long-outstanding issue,” said Andrew Pascoe, head of the Commercial Farmers Union representing  Zimbabwe white farmers.

The land seizures were one of Mugabe’s signature policies that soured ties with the West. Mugabe, who was ousted in a coup in 2017 and died last year, accused the West of imposing sanctions on his government as punishment.

The programme still divides public opinion in Zimbabwe as opponents see it as a partisan process that left the country struggling to feed itself. But its supporters say it has empowered landless Black people. Mnangagwa said the land reform could not be reversed but paying of compensation was key to mending ties with the West. Reuters

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NEWS

Chinamasa calls U.S. ambassador ‘thug’ as anti-government protests loom

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Chinamasa

Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party on Monday called the United States ambassador a “thug” and accused him of funding the opposition ahead of this week’s planned anti-government protests that authorities say are meant to overthrow the government.

Without providing evidence, ZANU-PF spokesman Patrick Chinamasa told reporters that U.S. ambassador to Harare, Brian Nichols, was involved in subversive activities to topple President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

Chinamasa’s comments echo the Robert Mugabe era, where the ZANU-PF government regularly accused the United States and Britain of seeking to dislodge it from power.

“He (Nichols) continues to engage in acts of undermining this republic and if he does so, if he continues engaging in acts of mobilising and funding disturbances, coordinating violence and training insurgents, our leadership will not hesitate to give him marching orders,” Chinamasa said.
“Diplomats should not behave like thugs, and Brian Nichols is a thug.”

The U.S. embassy in Harare did not immediately respond to Chinamasa’s comments. Political tensions are rising fast in the southern African nation after activists called for demonstrations on July 31 against government corruption, which they blame for deepening the worst economic crisis in more than a decade.

Last month, the government summoned Nichols after a senior White House official said Zimbabwe was among “foreign adversaries” using the civil unrest in the United States following the death of George Floyd to interfere in U.S. affairs.

The U.S., Britain, E.U. embassies and the United Nations have all criticised Zimbabwe for the arrest of journalists and political challengers.
Relations between Zimbabwe and the West were promising when Mnangagwa replaced Mugabe after a coup in 2017, but have soured over the government’s human rights record.

Patrick Chinamasa urged party supporters to defend themselves from protesters and avoid a repeat of the deadly violence that followed post-election demonstrations in August 2018 and the January 2019 protests over a steep fuel price hike.“No, this time no. Use any means at your disposal to defend yourselves,” Chinamasa said. Organisers say this week’s protests will be peaceful. Reuters

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HEALTH

Perence Shiri, Zimbabwe Agriculture Minister Dies

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Perrence-Shiri-Dead

Zimbabwe’s agriculture minister Perence Shiri, a retired general who helped plot the ouster of Robert Mugabe in a 2017 coup, has died, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Wednesday.

Perence Shiri, who commanded the air force for 25 years until he joined the government in 2017, was admitted to hospital on Tuesday, two government sources said. He died in the early hours of Wednesday.

“Shiri was a true patriot, who devoted his life to the liberation, independence and service of his country,” Mnangagwa said in a statement. He did not say how Shiri died.

But domestic media said Shiri, 65, succumbed to complications from the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, which has infected 2,817 and killed 40 in Zimbabwe.

A liberation war veteran,Perrence Shiri had a chequered past. He commanded the army’s Fifth Brigade unit that carried out the 1980s massacres of thousands of civilians in western Zimbabwe as the government sought to quell an insurgency.

The army massacres, known as ‘Gukurahundi’, a Shona term meaning the ‘early rain that washes away the chaff’, remain a sore point for the people of the Matabeleland region, many of whom demand justice and reparations.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change accused Perence Shiri of being among the security chiefs who organised violence against its members after Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential vote in 2008.Reuters

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