Push to arrest Chinamasa
Clemence Manyukwe, Political Editor
JUSTICE and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa is under investigations over possible attempts to defeat the course of justice, The Financial Gazette can exclusive reveal.
Ironically one of the sharpest legal minds in ZANU-PF, Chinamasa landed himself in hot water after he requested a docket from police on two party officials from his home province facing stock theft charges.
Those baying for his blood are alleging that the Justice Minister crossed the line when he asked police officers investigating suspended Manicaland provincial chairperson, Mike Madiro and his deputy, Dorothy Mabika to hand him a docket pertaining to the case.Police and the Attorney General’s Office have since been roped in to look into the allegations and bring him to book if need be.
Recently, Chinamasa confirmed perusing the docket for Madiro and Mabika, who are currently on trial on stock theft charges. The State is alleging that the suspended ZANU-PF officials stole beasts that were meant for President Robert Mugabe’s birthday celebrations. Both are denying the allegations.
Sources said Chinamasa’s woes should be seen in the broader context of the infighting that has erupted in Manicaland ahead of the elections to be held later this year.
The infighting is linked to President Mugabe’s succession with factions loyal to some of the top contenders for the high-pressure job using every trick in the book to smear their perceived competitors.
Contacted for comment yesterday, the party’s secretary for information and publicity, Rugare Gumbo, referred all questions to the Justice Minister. He said: “That might be the case, but the best person to ask is Chinamasa himself. Why don’t you ask him he is around?”
But Chinamasa declined to comment on the matter, saying: “Aiwa izvozvo handina chokutaura. Bvunza vari kuzvironga (I don’t have anything to say. Ask those who are plotting that).”
The Justice Minister’s campaign to halt the prosecution of Madiro and Mabika has also set him on a collision course with the party’s secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, who wants the suspended ZANU-PF officials to face the full wrath of the law.
His antics have also not gone down well with Mutasa’s allies.
Up until now, Mutasa was seen as Chinamasa’s godfather and protector to the extent that the Presidential Affairs Minister got physical at one point in order to rescue his perceived protégée. In 2004, when Move-ment for Democratic Change treasurer Roy Bennett floored Chinamasa in Parliament Mutasa rushed to the scene and kicked Bennett in a bid to rescue the Justice Minister.
In the past, Chinamasa has also carried Mutasa’s cross.
Seven years ago, Chinamasa was arraigned before the courts for attempting to influence witnesses to withdraw their evidence against Mutasa who was being accused of political violence following attacks on one of the war veterans’ leaders, James Kaunye. Kaunye had sought to stand against Mutasa in the party’s primary elections ahead of the 2005 general elections.
ZANU-PF insiders said only Chinamasa and Mutasa could explain why they have fallen out.
But that there is now bad blood between them is quite evident.
For instance, Mutasa is said to be backing former Manicaland provincial chairperson Basil Nyabadza to stand in Makoni Central and yet he had previously backed the Justice Minister for the same seat.
Chinamasa has previously blamed his woes on politics.
During his prosecution in the Kaunye case, he argued that he was being made to answer “politically-motivated charges”. Prosecutors however, rejected his attempts to cloud the charges against him by introducing political dimensions, although in the end he was acquitted.
Chinamasa’s tenure at the Justice Ministry has been punctuated by abuse of office allegations that saw him in 2004 being accused by former Administrative Court Judge President Michael Majuru of having attempted to put him under pressure to rule against The Daily News’ bid to be re-registered, allegations the minister dismissed.
Between 2000 and 2002, some Supreme Court judges also accused Chinamasa of pressurising them to quit in a bid to rid the bench of elements perceived to be hostile to ZANU-PF’s agenda.
The Justice Minister has also been caught up in succession fights.
Last year, he was under the eye of a storm amid suspicions that he had sought to settle the party’s succession issue during the constitution making process by agreeing to a running mate clause that was viciously opposed until it was repudiated from the charter signed into law yesterday by President Mugabe.
The whittling down of presidential powers in his presence did not help matters as ZANU-PF hardliners objected that their leader was being reduced to a clerk.