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RBZ officials' trial in false start

by Staff reporter
03 Nov 2021 at 05:17hrs | Views
THE trial of two Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe principal economists on allegations of leaking a de-dollarisation road map document on social media, saw a false start yesterday after the State indicated that the document from the Prosecutor General granting authority to prosecute the two under the Official Secrets Act had been misplaced and a duplicate had to be made.

The trial of Smart Manda and Philton Makena was set for yesterday, but prosecutor Mr Oscar Madhume, requested the matter to be set for November 9 to allow him to acquire the duplicate of the written authority from the Prosecutor General.

Mr Madhume told the court that the Prosecutor General had authorised the two's prosecution, but the authority document was misplaced as a result of docket movement during the build-up to the trial.

Manda and Makena are charged with communicating official documents to unauthorised persons with an alternative charge of violating the Reserve Bank Of Zimbabwe Act which demands ‘preservation of secrecy by a bank employee'.

Manda was represented by lawyer Mr Arshiel Mugiya, while Mr Gift Chiuta appeared for Makena.

Mr Madhume in his application for postponement said: "The trial on main charge of the Official Secrecy Act for proceeding to start, there is requirement for authority from PG to institute authority to proceed.

"The authority was misplaced and we have to get a duplicate copy from the PG. Witnesses are present and that authority is the only one missing. I can assure that the authority will be secured on next remand, that is, November 9."

Manda, through Mr Mugiya, opposed the State's application and applied for refusal of further remand. He argued that the State was not ready and should only summon them back to court when all was in place for trial.

"When we appeared sometime last week, the prosecution made an undertaking and promised that a trial would start," said Mr Mugiya. "There is unreasonable and undue delay in prosecuting this case. It is now over a year and six months with the accused on remand."

Makena, through Mr Chiuta, echoed the same sentiments. Harare regional magistrate Mr Noel Mupeiwa, in his ruling, allowed the postponement of the matter saying he had noted that the State had made efforts in having the two tried.

"I observed that the matter was remanded on several occasions and the trial prosecutor was not there," he said. "The prosecutor in charge of trial is available and has given the court his word that all is in order now save for the authority, which he said will be available on next remand. I see no reason not to believe him when he said that movement of the docket led to it to be misplaced."

It is alleged that in March last year, RBZ Governor John Mangudya assigned John Mafararikwa, who is the director on Economic Policy and Research, to work on a document titled De-dollarisation Road Map.

The document was aimed at assisting the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in the de-dollarisation of the economy over five years, according to the State.

Mr Mafararikwa is said to have assigned Nebson Mupunga to head a team comprising chief economists Mr Samuel Tarinda, Ms Getrude Machingura, Dr Nicholas Masindima, Mr Admore Jaya, Mr Douglas Mugwambi, Mr Paul Gilmor Mukoki, Mr Tawanda Lubvuma and Mr Tongai Tarubona in discussing, brainstorming and crafting the document.

Manda was also part of the team.

On April 15, 2020, Manda allegedly received the document from Mupunga on his cellphone through an RBZ email into his gmail account.

Manda allegedly converted the document into a pdf before sending it to Makena via WhatsApp.

Makena is alleged to have forwarded the document to his cousin, Bongani Zimuto, who also forwarded it to Professor Wonder Zimuto, a business development executive at ZIMNAT Life Assurance Company.

The document later found its way to a number of social media platforms.

Investigations and forensic examination revealed that the document moved from Manda's phone into Makena's until it reached Prof Zimuto's phone. The court heard that Manda and Makena were aware that it is the duty of the RBZ Governor to publish any document of the Reserve Bank to the public.

RBZ Director Human Resources and Support Services, Mr Eliot Rwatirera, is representing the central bank in the matter.

Source - The Herald
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