THREE Tsholotsho traditional chiefs have approached the High Court seeking to be part of a case where a Harare “vendor” wants Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo arrested for alleged corruption, saying they want the court to make judiciary notice of the government’s marginalisation of Matabeleland.
Moyo is being accused of abusing over $450 000 belonging to the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef), which he says was used to buy bicycles for Tsholotsho chiefs, among other things.
Chiefs Mathupula, Siphoso and Tategulu, wrote a letter to the registrar of the High Court, through their lawyers Guwuriro Associates Legal Practitioners dated October 27 2016 seeking to be part of the case now before Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo.
Moyo is challenging the application by the “vendor” Hardlife Mudzingwa, who recently filed an urgent application seeking to compel the police to arrest the minister.
Mudzingwa accused Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko of having acted in contravention of the Constitution by preventing Moyo’s arrest.
One of the reasons the chiefs want the case against the minister dismissed is that they believe he was acting against the neglect of Matabeleland by the government since independence.
They want the court to take judicial notice of “this notorious fact.”
“In relation to my clients’ situation, if there is anything that must shame all Zimbabweans, it is the extent of underdevelopment in Matabeleland and the lack of balance with other provinces or areas in Zimbabwe,” the lawyers said.
“This is such a matter of public record, recorded in many records of government as it has been repeatedly raised for the past 36 years and the court should take judicial notice of this notorious fact.
“All public records of post independent Zimbabwe will show that the people of Matabeleland have one main grievance with the government of Zimbabwe among others, development, development, development.”
Moyo has since dismissed the allegations as unfounded adding he would not be subjected “to kangaroo proceedings which Mudzingwa was calling for”.
However, the three chiefs, through their lawyers, said they were duty bound to seek protection from infringement of their fundamental rights which were being violated by the arrest calls being made by Mudzingwa.
“At the centre of this dispute are beneficiaries of the development work championed by Professor Jonathan Moyo, the first respondent in this matter in his constituency of Tsholotsho North,” the lawyers said.
“ The work is championed by the first respondent not just as the Member of Parliament for Tsholotsho North but, also as Cabinet minister who has by law the charge and responsibility to administer certain institutions and agencies of government.
“In these two capacities, the first respondent caused directly and indirectly my clients, Chief Mathupula, Chief Siphoso and Chief Tategulu under whose domain there is 10 headmen to benefit as beneficiaries in the community development programme of improving accessibility and transportation, access and communication in this very remote and seriously underdeveloped community of Tsholotsho by receiving bicycles and motor cycles which had been requested by clients from the first respondent.”
The lawyers added: “My clients have many rights protected by the Constitution that must be enforced and protected from infringement.
“The decisions taken by the respondent were taken to further and advance the protection of my client’s rights to social and economic development.”
The chiefs said they were of the view that adding their voices and contributions in the on-going matter would be of paramount importance adding they had interests and locus standi to seek to intervene.
“Clients on the advice that has been rendered to them reasonably believe that first respondent enjoys the power at law to exercise his authority as minister in the manner he did in relation to this matter,” the lawyers added.
“If at all breaches are alleged against the first respondent, clients believe these can be addressed in other forums competent to do so and not in the spectacle of a criminal trial and the attendant inconvenience to client, the trampling of client’s rights and mockery of their misery.”
A fortnight ago ago, traditional leaders from Tsholotsho wrote to President Robert Mugabe expressing their displeasure over the manner Moyo was being treated.
In the letter the chiefs said it was shocking that those campaigning for Moyo’s arrest had not shown the same zeal to push for the arrest of other ministers from other regions, who also has been accused of corruption.
Moyo has also suggested the allegations against him were linked to the bitter factionalism in the ruling Zanu PF party which was at war over Mugabe’s succession.
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) insists Moyo stole Zimdef money and mist be prosecuted.
But the Tsholotsho chiefs have accused the commission and others of being selective in graft probes and ignoring alleged abuses by other government officials and ministers.
The traditional leaders also questioned the motive behind the attack on a development they believe was for a genuine cause adding it was clear some politicians within government were not happy with development taking place in Tsholotsho.