Zvikomborero Parafini, Court Reporter
The highly anticipated trial of former minister Prisca Mupfumira failed to kick off yesterday after the prosecution sought more time to put their house in order.
Mupfumira and her alleged accomplice – former permanent secretary Ngoni Masoka appeared yesterday before Deputy Chief Magistrate Hosea Mujaya who set the new trial date to December 9.
Senior prosecutor Sharon Fero sought a postponement on the basis that the State needed more time to complete what she termed ‘house keeping’ issues.
“The State makes an application for postponement to allow the state to conduct some housekeeping, when the docket was availed to the State, we noted that there are some amendments to be made for trial to kick off smoothly, and from the last remand date to today, it wasnt ample time” said Fero.
Mupfumira’s lawyer said by and large he wasn’t opposed to the application but wanted it to be placed on record that the matter was referred to the trial court prematurely, before investigations were complete and that was why they hadn’t been equipped with the State’s papers to craft a defense outline.
Chinyama further told the court that even if the State was ready, his client Mupfumira just had an operation last week and therefore wasn’t fit for trial before he prayed for the court to order to make an undertaking that they will provide the trial papers timeously before the trial date.
The State alleged that sometime in 2013 Metbank defaulted in payment of US$25, 3 million investment loan maturity to Nssa that was secured with properties worth around 32 million.
Nssa then took over Metbank properties they held as surety to a value of US$25, 3 million on a purchase/sale agreement as a result Nssa remained holding Metbank properties worth around 7 million after sealing the 25.3 million investment loan.
As a result of the default, NSSA classified Metbak as a high risk client that was not worth trading with and in December 2014 Mupfumira was appointed minister of Public Service and on December 15, five days after her appointment she held a meeting with Metbank officials Ozias Bvute, Enoch Kamushinda and Belmont Ndebele at the ministry offices where no minutes were recorded.
On December 16, 2014 Mupfumira and Masoka held another meeting with then Nssa general manager James Matiza and the Metbank officials at the ministry offices.
Mupfumira instructed Nssa to financially bail out Metbank to the tune of US$15 million as it was facing liquidity challenges.
NSSA declined the proposal since Metbank had previously defaulted in a US$25, 3 million-loan advance. Mupfumira disregarded all that and went to give James Matiza instruction to seriously consider.
Metbank’s loan request and process a loan of US$15million to settle the bank’s US$5 million depositors credit and US$10 million for use in housing projects and bring feedback the following day.
However, no minutes on the meeting were recorded.
Nssa resolved to decline the US$15 million loan request after considering Metbank’s risk status however, Mupfumira and Masoka forced NSSA to purchase Metbank properties worth 4 908 050 that they had not intended to purchase.