Zim Finance Minister Drags Notorius Police Officers To Court

Biti, who serves as secretary-general in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has taken Chief Superintendent Chrispen Makedenge, the Officer Commanding CID Law and Order Section at Harare Central Police Station and Assistant Commissioner Matema to the Supreme Court, where he is challenging his long drawn out incarceration in filthy cells for allegedly committing treason.

Biti, the MDC chief negotiator in inter-party talks, was arrested and detained by Makedenge and Matema in June 2008 on treason charges and communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the state, soon after his return from South Africa.

The treason charge emanated from a document he allegedly authored entitled “The Transition Strategy”, while the other charge was about statements he allegedly made after the March 29 harmonised elections in which MDC leader Tsvangirai shocked President Robert Mugabe by defeating him in an election.

Although the charges were later dropped by the state after his appointment as Finance Minister in a shaky a coalition government of Mugabe and Tsvangirai, Biti wants the Supreme Court to annual High Court Judge Samuel Kudya’s judgment which declared Biti’s prolonged detention as lawful.

Supreme Court Judges Justice Vernanda Ziyambi, Paddington Garwe and Misheck Cheda will preside over Biti’s appeal.

Kudya declared as lawful Makedenge and Matema’s detention of Biti after the lawyer-turned politician challenged the validity of his detention for five days instead of being brought to court as stipulated in his warrant of arrest which the notorious policemen relied upon to detain him.

Human rights groups say although the Supreme Court’s consideration of Biti’s appeal, which has been set for hearing on Monday will be academic, its exposes the slow pace of the country’s justice delivery system.

“It however serves to highlight the slow nature of Zimbabwe’s justice delivery system, and how authorities can potentially escape liability for abuses of fundamental rights because cases take too long to be heard and finalised,” said Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), an influential rights group, which strives to foster a culture of human rights in Zimbabwe.

Makedenge and Matema have over the past decades been fingered in many cases of abuse, harassment, arrest and torture of political and human rights activists.

Early this year Makedenge forced freelance journalist Stanley Kwenda to go into exile after he threatened him over a story which he alleged the journalist had authored exposing his private life. More than a dozen victims of state sponsored enforced disappearance are suing Makedenge for torturing them during the period they were held incommunicado.