CHIDHAKWA BACK IN COURT
Former Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa and the Ministry’s ex-permanent secretary Professor Francis Gudyanga appeared in court yesterday facing abuse of office charges.
The two were arrested in Harare on Monday and brought to Gweru where they appeared before Midlands provincial magistrate Mrs Phathekile Msipa facing charges of illegally presiding over a mine ownership dispute.
The duo was not asked to plead and was remanded out of custody on $800 bail each to April 11.
Part of the bail conditions are that Chidhakwa (55) and Prof Gudyanga (70) report once every week at Borrowdale and Highlands Police Stations.
They were also ordered not to interfere with State witnesses until the matter is finalised.
Lawyers, Mr Reginald Chidawanyika representing Chidhakwa and Mr Manners Jaravaza representing Prof Gudyanga notified the court of their intention to oppose further placement of their clients on remand when they return to court on April 11.
The two argued that the State had not established any criminal offence against the accused persons.
“We are both challenging any further placement on remand of our clients because the facts before the court don’t disclose any criminal offence,” said Mr Jaravaza.
It is the State case that in May 2015, Prof Gudyanga, in his capacity as the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development allegedly received appeal correspondence from Mr Ronald Mugangavari.
Mr Mugangavari, the court heard, was allegedly appealing against a determination by the Provincial Mining Commissioners for Masvingo and Midlands only identified as Mr C Phiri and Mr Tapererwa Noel Paskwavaviri.
The appeal was allegedly in connection with a mine ownership dispute between Mr Herbert Hwekwete and Mr Mugangavari.
Chidhakwa and Prof Gudyanga knowing that they did not have jurisdiction to deal with such an appeal, allegedly went on nullify the determination made by Mr Phiri and Mr Paskwavaviri showing favour to Mr Mugangavari.
The court heard that according to the Mines and Mining Act, appeals against a determination by a Mining Commissioner are handled by the High Court.
The alleged unlawful decision of the accused persons resulted in Mr Mugangavari unlawfully returning to the mine where he conducted mining activities.
On July 4 last year, Mr Mugangavari allegedly shot and injured Mr Hwekwete and his cousin brother Robert. The shooting, the court heard, took place after the two victims had visited the mine at the centre of the dispute.
Mr Mugangavari allegedly continued to deny the rightful owners of the mine access to the mine basing on the determination of Chidhakwa and Prof Gudyanga. Mr Kelvin Guvheya appeared for the State.