THE coup plot saga has taken a new twist as the army has started proceedings to court-martial one of the accused, Albert Matapo, on charges of deserting t
However a lawyer representing Matapo, one of the six men accused of plotting a coup to oust President Robert Mugabe, yesterday filed an application with the High Court to stop the army from proceeding with the General Court Martial of their client.
“We are filing papers to stop the army from proceeding with charging our clients for desertion as he only trained for three months which were not enough for him to be an army officer,” said Charles Warara, Matapo’s lawyer.
The army director of prosecutions, Group Captain Murove had earlier this week written to Warara advising him that Matapo will be tried before a military court as he was a former member of the force.
“We will not be withdrawing the charges against Private Matapo on the basis of your submission and you may proceed with your action if after a more thorough and careful perusal of the said regulations and laws you are still convinced of the correctness of your current position,” said Murove in the letter.
However, in a letter to the army dated 29 November Warara argued that his client was never a member of the army.
“We have taken instructions from our client who has explained in detail the fact that he was never a member of the Zimbabwe National Army. As such, you have no have no jurisdiction to try a private action on a charge of desertion when he never qualified after recruitment,” reads part of the letter.
According to the letter, Matapo resigned from the army after he failed the main cadet training.
“Our instructions are that when he joined the army he started training on June 1 1989 and in September 1989 was moved to cadet selection course. This was before he finished training as a recruit. After finishing the cadet selection course, he failed the main cadet training itself and was then returned to join his group, but at that stage the team had started training at Mbalabala had already finished,” said Warara in the letter.
“After this he was told to choose whether to wait for a new group of recruits so that he can finish the required six months training before he can become a member of the army or he resigns,” added Warara.
Matapo, according to his lawyers duly resigned and surrendered his uniforms and other items that were in his custody in 1990.
“His resignation was given to Major Nyanda in September 1990.As you may be aware, you are calling our client Private Matapo but he did not finish the training. If he had finished the cadet training, he would not have reverted to be called a private officer as his rank would have been that of a commissioned officer,” said Warara.
Warara said that the army, by charging Matapo of desertion, will infringe on his rights as a private citizen.