One year on, justice still elusive

Over-the-counter, more like your Panadol.

That is how the justice delivery system is like in the country. When you have the money, you can simply order what justice package suits your pocket.

This is not a tall tale, but a personal experience of how frustrating the justice delivery system is in the country.

Almost a year ago, February 19 to be exact, we published an account of what we had seen in Gwanda, the site of the much-publicised $202 million solar project whose tender had been won by Wicknell Chivhayo.

In the weeks preceding our tour to Gwanda, the Press had been full of reports of possible tender-tampering with regards to the awarding of the tender. These fears were raised when it was reported that Intratrek, the company that Chivhayo fronts, was given $5 million upfront by Zesa, the contractor, without any bank guarantees.

The $5 million was meant for pre-commencement works. This tickled our interests. There was no better way than to visit Gwanda and see for ourselves the “pre-commencement” works on the ground.

Apart from some scrappy opening of roadways, we also found a herd of cattle enjoying the lush green grass on the site, scenes we aptly described and captured in photography. Even the locals in Gwanda confirmed that Intratrek workers had not spent more than three months on the site.

And stories of such a nature do not go to print without the other side of the story. To which we sought comment from Intratrek. Initially Chivhayo sounded too busy to respond to our questions and as an after-thought referred us to his manager.

The manager’s response, as well as our account of what we had seen in Gwanda, were carried in the issue of February 19.

Then out of the blue, the following day around mid-morning, I was to receive a flurry of insulting messages on my mobile phone through WhatsApp. I could not believe my eyes when I read the insults, which were mostly of a personal nature – my mother, my HIV and Aids, my poverty, you name it.

Not sure what to do, I posted the insults on my Facebook page and within minutes the post was trending. And the support from across the divide was overwhelming – here I was, being personally insulted for reporting on a project of national importance.

Then a week later, feeling terribly wronged that my mother and myself had been insulted for reporting on a national project, I walked into Harare Central Police Station to make a criminal report against Chivhayo.

What I thought would be the start of justice delivery has turned, a year later, into nothing but a farce.

Some criminals have committed their crimes, been tried and served their jail sentences in the year that I have been waiting for justice.

This is not to suggest that Chivhayo should have been jailed – but just an illustration on how the justice delivery system can be delayed, frustrated and compromised.

I have lost count of the number of times that I have been to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority offices in Mount Pleasant, ostensibly to have my gadget “examined” – like I was the offender.

Because of the number of tall tales I have been told, and the last time I was told the Potraz technician couldn’t remember his password, I knew this was part of the ploy to delay and frustrate me.

The police have not been helpful either way – the simple response being that the docket is with the Prosecutor-General’s Office, awaiting further instruction. A check with the PG’s Office, in turn, said the docket is still with the police.

There you have it, can there be any frustration worse than that?

Then just the other week, the queer phone call came from some superintendent at Harare Central who was going through the docket. He said he was looking for recommendations on how to proceed with the case, recommendations he would forward to the PG’s Office.

The police looking for recommendations from the complainant? Why not just take the case to court and let justice be delivered?

At the rate at which Chivhayo is being protected by State agents, who should be at the forefront of justice delivery, it gives an impression that it is legal to insult each other on social media.

At the same time I reported the case at Harare Central Police Station, a civil case was opened at the High Court.

Just as the same pattern with the criminal case, the civil case has been frustrated left, right and centre, leaving my legal representative, Tichawana Nyahuma, with no option but to apply for a default judgment.

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  • Amon Ziyaye

    aaaaa wait is this happening now or used to happen in Mugabe error ? vakomana ka vakomana ka iye Wicknell or what ever he call himself anomboita nezvei chaizvo. Please ED SEI MUNHU UYU ARIKUREGERERWA ZVAKADAI $5m scam then state zii zvayo pa 100 dys report back yenyu ED we need to hear kuti what happen ku$5m scam iyi. mybe akaidzosera.
    kana akaidzosera ngaachirega kungotuka macitizen mamwe coz they do have rights as well regardless of their status|wealth.

  • Jdam540i

    Indeed I share your frustrations. I have had a clear case of fraudulent dispossession at the hands of a fellow countryman and one foreigner, ably assisted by a prominent (too prominent for comfort) Legal practitioner, to the extent of being repeatedly asked to report to the CID fraud office in Harare for so many times. On each visit , an assigned Invstigative Officer either took an hour or more to do a statement with me, or did not turn up at all after asking me to come to his offce, even on Saturdays. On occassions I called him from his office after waiting for him for so long, having come on his specific appointment, only for him to tell me has gone on another assignment.

    With the above brief narrative, one would be tempted to think it was just a small or minor case of fraud – far from it, we are talking of fraudulent dispossession that resulted in a mine that was employing about 30 general hands, excluding supervisors and other senior managers. Such is the colour of justice in Zimbabwe, sadly.

    One can only hope that the current reforms zero-in on justice delivery in a qualitative manner. For the benefit of the reader, I ended up feeling even my own personal lawyer had been instructed to slow down. He changed from one reason to another even sillier reason to explain to me why my case was not being given a hearing date at the High Court. Worse still, colleagues who knew my case and felt for me had directly heard my countryman boasting at a local hotel that this youngman (meaning myself) might as well forget it because right to the top we have done our work , his efforts to sew(referring to my legal action) will not go anywhere. Incidentally, one of the days when I turned up at the fraud office for my prearranged appointment with the investigative officer I had bumped into the ‘prominent Harare legal practitioner’ at the CID offices, him having some cordial chat with one of the seniors at the CID offices. He did not know me in person and he was never moved when he saw me as I waited patiently for an officer who never came.

    Its painful that in our own country justice has been reduced to a lottery where the chances of you being heard fairly are down to what purse-strings, and size thereof, as well as connections, you control. Zimbabwe cannot record a major reform without bringing to book errant lawyers , corrupt magistrates and related law enforcement people to book. As for my case, I have taken a position that nyaya haiwori. I will revisit this with the High Court when I am financially stable. This dispossession left me nearly destitute, to the great satisfaction of my countryman and the foreigner he connived with. Mwari ndewe munhu wese. My day shall come.