FORMER Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) chief executive officer, Matheline Mujokoro, has been acquitted of allegations of criminal abuse of office.
Mujokoro was being accused of violating procurement procedures by hiring two security companies that had been rejected as sub-standard.
Mujokoro’s lawyer, Admire Rubaya, argued in court that the charge was based on a repealed law.
Rubaya argued that after the regulations that governed the obligation to gain procurement approval were repealed, there was no duty for Mujokoro to follow and that the charge, as a result, was bad at law. Magistrate Donald Ndirowei agreed with the defence’s argument and acquitted Mujokoro last Friday.
Mujokoro further argued that the regulations which promulgated the obligation in question were repealed and replaced by Statutory Instrument 5 of 2018 with effect from January 18 2018, meaning the offence was allegedly committed about eight months after the repeal of the regulations which created the obligation to get approval through the review by the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe.
It was argued that after the repeal, there was no duty that was supposed to be followed by Mujokoro in completed procurement proceedings as that duty had lapsed with the repeal of the regulations eight months prior to the date the allegations are alleged to have arisen.
It was further argued that the criminal charge under the circumstances was bad at law as it disclosed no offence and that the court cannot be clothed with powers to amend the law which it does not have.
The defence further said charging and prosecuting a suspect with repealed law infringed on their rights as the constitution does not allow the law to be applied in retrospect.
Magistrate Ndirowei agreed that the State doesn’t have the power to resuscitate a repealed law in order to prosecute Mujokoro.
He said in his ruling that he was persuaded by the lawyer’s submissions that the operation of that law ended on January 18, 2018, when the new SI was effected.
“This court associates itself in the reasoning above. It is therefore clear from the foregoing that the exception taken by the accused person cannot be said to be lacking merit,” magistrate Ndirowei said. With the defence having also tendered a plea of not guilty, the magistrate said Mujokoro was entitled to a verdict and declared her not guilty and acquitted.