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approves 21-day custody
July 02, 2004
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
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
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
"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
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
Makamba and Kuruneri are still in custody facing allegations of
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
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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