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House approves 21-day custody
The Herald
July 02, 2004

http://www.herald.co.zw/index.php?id=33442&pubdate=2004-07-02

Parliament has agreed to make permanent the temporary legislation enforcing the mandatory 21 days in custody to facilitate investigation of those accused of corruption and externalisation of foreign currency and those facing security-related charges.

The Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill went through Parliament on Wednesday, with amendments. It will become law once President Mugabe assents to it.

The legislation will replace similar but temporary provisions made by President Mugabe under the authority he wields in terms of the Presidential Temporary Powers Act.

The new law seeks to boost the Government’s anti-corruption drive by facilitating police investigations on serious crimes of an economic nature such as corruption and externalisation of foreign currency.

There is a prevalence of crimes prejudicing the vital economic interests of Zimbabwe such as corruption, the laundering of proceeds of crime, externalisation of foreign currency and the smuggling of gold and other precious minerals.

Provisions of the Bill will also be applied to security related crimes.

The Bill was passed after a heated debate between Zanu-PF legislators, who supported, it and opposition MDC MPs, who were against the mandatory 21 days in custody for suspects, saying this should be left to the discretion of courts.

Parliament had to be divided for the MPs to vote on whether the Bill should be read for the second time or not and Zanu-PF won by 64 votes against MDC’s 39 votes.

One of the major amendments is the inclusion of a provision which stipulates that suspects may be arrested only after the authorisation of an officer above the rank of assistant inspector. This is to ensure that there is no abuse of the system by the police.

Secondly, where an allegation of an offence is disclosed by an anonymous complainant (whistle blowers), the police should keep records of that complainant and this should be made available to the courts.

This is designed to protect accused persons and to put checks and balances of ensuring that there is no abuse against individual accused persons.

The Attorney-General will certify whether or not there is reasonable suspicion for further detention of the accused for 21 days.

In his second reading speech, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa told Parliament that most suspects who were being arrested for economic crimes had managed to acquire assets abroad and the police should be allowed enough time to investigate such cases.

"This law is necessary to stamp corruption in our society. Unless we put the fear of God in our people, our country will be affected by corruption," Cde Chinamasa said.

He said some suspects were escaping once they got wind that they would be arrested and others were jumping bail despite accompanying stringent conditions.

The anti-corruption drive has seen the arrest of several prominent business executives and politicians that include prominent Harare businessman and politician James Makamba, Indigenous Business Women’s Organisation president Jane Mutasa, businessman and farmer Cecil Muderede and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Chris Kuruneri.

Makamba and Kuruneri are still in custody facing allegations of corruption.

Several banking executives wanted by the police in connection with corruption such as Julius Makoni and James Mushore of NMB Bank slipped out of the country when their arrest appeared imminent.

One of the ENG directors, Gilbert Muponda, who is facing fraud allegations involving sums amounting to at least $61 billion, has jumped bail and is believed to have fled to Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States.

President Mugabe has categorically said the Government will not tolerate corruption and that people should follow lawful and correct channels when doing business.

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