VICE-President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been accused of trying to spring suspended prosecutor general Johannes Tomana free from criminal charges, according to shock government correspondence seen by The Standard.
By Xolisani Ncube
Mnangagwa allegedly told the director of public prosecutions Florence Ziyambi to withdraw criminal abuse of office charges against Tomana “after plea” — meaning that he could not be recharged on the same allegations.
Ziyambi, in a document prepared for Mugabe, said Mnangagwa — who is linked to the Lacoste faction in Zanu PF which has entangled civil servants — allegedly issued the directive twice and on both occasions the Zanu PF leader was out of the country.
Ziyambi, in a letter dated April 25 2016, told Mugabe: “On Wednesday, April 20 2016, I attended a meeting chaired by Hon Vice-President E D. Mnangagwa conducted at the Ministry of Justice boardroom.
“After I had presented the NPA [National Prosecution Authority] report on operations of the department of prosecution, the Hon VP informed me that the directive by His Excellency the President of the Republic to have charges withdrawn against the prosecutor-general still stood and that I was to immediately proceed to withdraw after plea. Thereafter he then left.
“This directive is being made to me for the second time and it’s now almost three months since the first directive was made.”
Ziyambi said coincidentally, the directive — which appears to have no legal basis — was always made when Mugabe was away, adding: “Once the president is back, the matter is not pursued.”
Tomana — a Mnangagwa loyalist — was arrested in February and charged with abuse of office after he withdrew treason charges against two suspects in the alleged attempted bombing of a dairy plant owned by Mugabe and his wife, Grace.
Ziyambi, who works in Tomana’s office, said she had decided not to follow Mnangagwa’s directives because she is a witness in his prosecution, adding: “I, therefore, cannot handle the matter because I cannot be a witness and prosecutor in the same case.”
The shock revelations come in the wake of last week’s attempts to arrest Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission. Moyo is accused of siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund for personal use.
Moyo denies the charges, insisting the money was used to fund Zanu PF programmes, including the Zanu PF Youth League-organised million-man-march in July to show solidarity with Mugabe.
In her letter, Ziyambi also appeared to be asking Mugabe to cause Tomana’s suspension so that he does not interfere with their work.
Tomana, she said, chaired an NPA board meeting on May 4 2016.
After that meeting, the board which was chaired by Tomana, resolved among other issues, to transfer prosecutors to various towns.
“The board has resolved the transfer of the following officers to stations indicated below: C Hungwe transferred from Chinhoyi to Kwekwe, R T Chavora is transferred from Kadoma district offices to Kariba station,” read part of a board resolution signed off by Colonel Solomon Siziba and seen by this newspaper.
Mugabe subsequently suspended Tomana and appointed a tribunal to look into his conduct.
Further criminal charges were filed against him and are still pending.
Ziyambi was unavailable for comment yesterday, as she was reportedly in Tanzania. She did not respond to a message sent on her WhatsApp, although there was confirmation she had seen the questions.
Clifford Sibanda, the Minister of State in Mnangagwa’s office said he did not think the VP would issue such directives.
“I doubt the VP would do such a thing, I wouldn’t know really. More so, I am on leave. I would have helped you,” he said.
“Why can’t you talk to the VP himself? He is quite a nice man, or try the PS [permanent secretary] Virginia Mabhiza, she would help you.”
Mabhiza on Friday was not available for comment as she was said to be in a meeting.
NPA spokesperson Allen Chifokoyo confirmed that Tomana chaired the board meeting.
“Yes, it is true, the board meeting chaired by Hon Johannes Tomana was held on May 4 and indeed the said transfers were approved but they were made for various reasons,”he said.
“Hungwe was transferred for personal reasons; Mugumba was also transferred to head Kwekwe since Mr Muzemba who used to head the station is now based in Gweru.”
But Chifokoyo could not comment on Ziyambi’s claims.
“I am sorry I can’t comment on that. I do not speak for the VP or the deputy prosecutor-general,” he said.
Mnangagwa on Wednesday said no-one, besides the president, was above the law and all were liable to prosecution.
Meanwhile, the NPA said its director of public prosecutions Nelson Mutsonziwa was not part of a meeting Mnangagwa allegedly held with Zacc commissioners to discuss Moyo’s case a fortnight ago.
“I wish to put on record that at no time, or on October 3 2016 to be specific, did our national director of public prosecutions, Nelson Mutsonziwa, attend a meeting between the vice-president and members of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to discuss the arrest of Minister Jonathan Moyo,” Chifokoyo said, referring to our story last week headlined Mnangagwa angers Mugabe.