By Professor Matodzi
Harare, July 1, 2016 – A Harare court on Friday ended the persecution of Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni, an ally of the country’s main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai after he ordered his release from police custody.
Manyenyeni endured two nights in police cells after Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission and Zimbabwe Republic Police officers pounced on him on Wednesday and charged him with criminal abuse of duty as a public officer in contravention of Section 174 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Prosecutors alleged that Manyenyeni committed corruption in the recruitment of companies, which were involved in the shortlisting of candidates for the position of Town Clerk for the City of Harare, a position which was assumed by Harare banker James Mushore.
Manyenyeni was arrested as he left the High Court building after Justice Lavender Makoni overturned his suspension by Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, who accused him of acting unlawfully and defying his directive by ordering Harare City Council councilors not to approve the appointment of Harare banker James Mushore to the position of Town Clerk for the City of Harare.
On Friday, Manyenyeni’s lawyer Lovemore Madhuku, a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), protested that his client had been over-detained in contravention of the country’s new constitution, which prescribes that an accused person must be brought to court within 48 years after his arrest.
Madhuku argued that Manyenyeni’s rights had been infringed as he had been detained beyond 48 hours without being brought to court.
Harare Magistrate Vakayi Chikwekwe agreed with Madhuku’s submissions and ordered that Manyenyeni be released from police custody as his rights had been violated.
Upon release a jubilant Manyenyeni joined dozens of MDC-T party supporters who packed the courtroom in following proceedings in song and dance.
Some of the notable MDC-T officials present at the courtroom include former Harare Mayor Elias Mudzuri and former legislator and senior MDC-T member Job Sikhala.
The deployment of police officers armed with truncheons could not deter some MDC-T supporters from singing songs and dancing outside the court building in celebration of the release of Manyenyeni.
Manyenyeni was first suspended from duty by Kasukuwere in April and later dismissed from his position again last month before he approached ZLHR, which successfully challenged his sacking as unlawful.