JUSTICE minister Patrick Chinamasa faces a defining moment on Monday after the state closed its case this week with a plea for conviction, saying the verdict had a bearing on the administration of justice in Zimbabwe.
The state’s su
bmissions seek to rebut an attempt by Chinamasa to cloud the charges against him by introducing political dimensions to the trial.
“The accused was not brought before this court to answer allegations that he joined Zanu PF youth wing in 1963.
The accused is not here to explain how as a Zanu PF candidate he ended up being elected or appointed into the Rhodesian senate in 1975,” the state said in its closing submissions.
It said Chinamasa had brought up political issues to cloud matters and confuse the court.
The state submitted that it was also important to stress that Chinamasa was not in court to answer “politically-motivated charges” such as his involvement in the Tsholotsho saga or his defection from Zanu PF to become a Rhodesian senator in the 1970s. He was in court, the state said, because he had attempted to defeat the course of justice by trying to influence witnesses.
Chinamasa is accused of putting pressure on James Kaunye to withdraw charges against National Security minister Didymus Mutasa’s supporters, in the second case of an alleged attempt to defeat the course of justice levelled against him in his career as Justice minister.
As reported by the Zimbabwe Independent on July 30 2004, former Administrative Court Judge President Michael Majuru claimed the minister put him under pressure to rule against the Daily News’ bid to be re-registered.
Chinamasa denies the allegations.
The state, in its closing submissions, said Chinamasa promised Kaunye he would rescue him from attempted murder charges he was facing.
“For sure, the witness (Kaunye) was not convicted despite the credible evidence led by the state,” it said, adding that Kaunye had been able to corroborate his story regarding Chinamasa’s overtures whereas Chinamasa had failed to do so.
It said contrary to Chinamasa’s allegations that he was “caught in a crossfire” in a war between Kaunye and Mutasa, the key state witness (Kaunye) had proved otherwise.
Despite Chinamasa’s claims of bad blood between Kaunye and Mutasa and their earlier rivalry, Kaunye had campaigned for Mutasa in Makoni North in the 2005 poll and had pushed for the minister’s appointment as war veterans patron in the same area. Neither of them attended the Tsholotsho meeting.
The state, led by a prominent prosecutor, Levison Chikafu, also said there were inconsistencies in Chinamasa’s warned and cautioned statement — at one stage claiming that Kaunye and Mutasa were fighting and on the other claiming that they ate from the same plate.
It said Chinamasa had failed to adequately explain the reason why he had approached Kaunye or corroborate the alleged hatred between Kaunye and Mutasa.
“I conclude by submitting that the failure by the accused to call Didymus Mutasa and the war veterans who allegedly made complaints against James Kaunye clearly shows that the accused is hiding the truth. I humbly submit that it would be misdirection if this court accepts accused’s version without some corroboration,” the state submitted.
It added that Chinamasa lied that he had approached Kaunye to discuss party issues because if that was the case he would not have instructed his aide, an intelligence officer who has ruling party links, to leave the vehicle where the conversation took place.
The state further added that if Chinamasa had been an upright citizen, as he claimed, he would not have become involved in a scuffle with former MDC MP Roy Bennett in parliament. It said that magistrates who recused themselves from the trial had set a bad precedent.