THE Attorney-General’s office has refused to prosecute two women for allegedly violating foreign exchange regulations on the basis of pictures of them taken by the Chronicle as they chatted with
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono.
A state lawyer said the two women, who are vendors at a nearby flea market, had no case to answer as there was no evidence of wrongdoing against them. The two were arrested three days after pictures appeared in the Chronicle newspaper of July 17 showing them in a conversation with Gono, who was attempting to be incognito.
The RBZ governor had visited the Bulawayo foreign currency black market along Fort Street, dubbed the “World Bank”, to assess the extent of the practice.
Gono was accompanied by journalists from the Chronicle to see how the black market operated. He strolled around the area and managed to convince some women to sell him foreign currency. The women only abandoned the deal after being tipped off by onlookers that they were being filmed and that their “client” was the RBZ governor.
The women, Memory Mujuru and Nokuthula Marara, were arrested four days later on July 21 by plainclothes police. They were subsequently detained for five days at the Bulawayo police station.
The lawyer representing the women, Sindiso Mazibisa of Cheda & Partners, said in a High Court application the arrest of his clients was a violation of the country’s constitution.
“The facts of the case evince a clear abuse of power and arbitrary arrest and detention of citizens of Zimbabwe. It is a brazen violation of the constitution of Zimbabwe and my clients’ detention is unlawful,” Mazibisa said.
Public prosecutor for Bulawayo, Mary Zimba-Dube, refused to defend the case.
Mazibisa said if the women were deemed to have contravened sections of the Foreign Currency Exchange Act, then Gono was also liable for prosecution.
“It is common cause that the applicants’ arrest is based on photographs of people whom Gono spoke to during his visit to Fort Street,” the court papers said.
“It is also common cause that there are no witnesses other than Dr Gono as to what was discussed between them.
“No statements were taken from Dr Gono to date and in any event it is not a crime to have been talked to by the governor of the Reserve Bank.”