HARARE, October 19, 2015 – The High court on Monday postponed to Friday the trial of a top ally of President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace.
Martin Dinha,the Minister of State for Mashonaland Central province who is accused of allegedly extorting $60 000 from a white commercial farmer in a deal meant to foil his eviction from a farm in the prime farming area of Centenary will now stand trial in the High Court on Friday.He will answer to charges of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer in contravention of Section 174 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23).
State prosecutors claimed that Dinha extorted $60 000 from Guy Frank Dollar, a white commercial farmer, so as to block his forced eviction from the rich farming area.
The prosecutors charged that the $60 000 payment given to Dinha was meant to spare Dollar from being evicted from his Tzoro farm in Centenary, a farming area which falls in Mashonaland Central province and which is supervised by the former Bindura Mayor, even though the farm had been gazetted for compulsory acquisition by President Mugabe’s government.
The bribery charges against Dinha which according to state prosecutors happened between 2012 and March 2013 only became known publicly early last month when he appeared at Bindura Magistrates Court, where he was granted $1 000 and ordered to report to Bindura Police Station once every week on Fridays.
The State claimed that Dinha, who also doubles up as he chairperson of the Mashonaland Central provincial lands committee had through an emissary identified as Saineti Magore Madzamba assured Dollar that he would be spared eviction from the farm as he would facilitate the recommendation and processing of an offer letter for the white commercial farmer.
The State said Dinha’s conduct was contrary and inconsistent with his duty as a public officer.
Besides receiving $60 000 from Dollar, prosecutors charged that Dinha went on to conceal or dispose of the proceeds of the crime by transferring $30 000 into his POSB Bank savings account number 11731000-4276 which he withdrew from the said account on different occasions until a balance of $1 012 remained in the account.
Mugabe appointed Dinha to serve as Minister of State for Mashonaland Central province in September 2013 together with nine other provincial heads. He had previously served as the Provincial Governor and Resident Minister for the province.
Dinha has been very vocal and defensive of the first lady’s expansion of her farming and business empire in the Mazowe area, which falls under his administration in the province.
Last year, Dinha pledged to explore ways of expanding the land under the control of the Mugabe’s as the land that they currently control “is no longer sufficient to sustain the projects the First Lady has on her sleeves.”