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Ex Minister loses Supreme Court appeal

Petronella Kagonye
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Former Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Petronella Kagonye was properly convicted by a regional magistrate of diverting 20 laptops donated by Potraz to schools in her constituency and the effective 16-month sentence she served was a correct decision, the Supreme Court ruled when it rejected her final appeal against both conviction and sentence.

The appeal was somewhat academic as Kagonye was released from prison in May last year after serving the 16 months minus the standard one third off for good behaviour while behind bars, so served a total of 10 and two thirds months.

But she now retains the criminal record for theft of trust property for life, in effect a corruption conviction considering the circumstances, and has a suspended one year term hanging over her if she commits any crime involving dishonesty for the next few years.

Kagonye was convicted in June 2022 by regional magistrate Mrs Vongai Guwuriro of diverting 20 laptops donated by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) for schools in her Goromonzi South constituency.

The offence earned her 36 months imprisonment, with 12 months suspended condition of good behaviour when she came out of prison. A further eight months were suspended on the condition she repaid US$10 000, the value of the laptops.

Former minister Kagonye's appeal against conviction and sentence dismissed |

Her first attempt to quash both conviction and sentence, the standard appeal to the High Court failed as that court ruled that the trial magistrate’s decisions for conviction and sentence were both legally solid and could not be interfered with. The only comment that the two judges made was that they thought the sentence could be considered on the lenient side.

Evidence showed that two laptops were given to students at a rally and another to a school for the disabled, but these three out of the 20 were not part agreement with Potraz and there was no evidence that the other 17 had been wrongly distributed to reasonable causes.

Although she had served her time in Chikurubi Women’s Prison, Kagonye still approached the Supreme Court seeking leave for a final appeal against the decisions of the first appeal court and the original trial court.

Her appeal against conviction was based on an argument that she had no intent to steal, so the essential mental element of the charge of theft of trust property was not proved in the trial court, and the appeal against sentence was that even if the conviction stood, the sentence was too harsh.

She asked the Supreme Court to determine whether the High Court erred in confirming her conviction and sentence, in particular, whether she had the requisite state of mind to commit the crime and secondly, whether the sentence imposed by the trial court ought to have been confirmed by the higher court.

But Justice Susan Mavangira writing for the three Supreme Court judges who heard this final appeal dismissed the appeal, finding that the original trial court, the magistrate, could not be faulted for disbelieving Kagonye, whose evidence it found to be “filled with inconsistencies” and finding her guilt had been established beyond reasonable doubt.

So, the High Court could not be faulted for agreeing with the trial court and finding that all the issues raised in the appeal against conviction before it, had been properly decided against her.

“In light of the foregoing analysis, we find that the decision of the court a quo cannot be faulted,” said Justice Mavangira in agreement with Justice George Chiweshe and Justice Samuel Kudya.

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Politics

Zim Central Bank says new currency will definitively gain in value

On an annual basis, broad money grew by 708,87 percent in December 2023, against prior year comparative, but new RBZ Governor Dr John Mushayavanhu says money supply will only grow in line with growth in reserves made up of precious metals, including gold and US dollar cash
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ZIMBABWE marked an epochal moment in its history when it introduced a new currency, Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG), on April 5, taking a giant step towards bringing a lasting solution to exchange rate volatility, which, for nearly half a decade, has driven inflation and made saving in the domestic unit difficult.

This is the third time Zimbabwe has switched currencies since scrapping the domestic unit in 2009, amid the ravages of inflation in a country that had gone through fundamental changes in its agricultural land ownership, was buckling under the weight of sanctions and was closed to sources of cheaper external funding.

In the realm of international trade, the dominance of major global currencies such as the US dollar, the euro and the yen has been undisputed for many years.

However, there is a growing recognition of the benefits associated with conducting trade using local currencies.

By bypassing the need for constant conversion into a foreign currency, trade in local units offers numerous advantages. They include enhanced economic stability, reduced dependence on foreign exchange and increased autonomy for any country.

As inflation continued to wreak havoc on Zimbabwe’s currency, the annual rate climbed to 55,3 percent from 46,7 percent in February 2024, reflecting the pass-through effects on prices, which track the movement in the exchange rate.

In light of the high inflation challenges emanating from exchange rate volatility, many observers have wondered how just the change in the national currency could turn the situation around.

But Zimbabwe’s monetary authorities expect the new currency and policy measures they are rolling out to restore confidence in the local unit and go a long way in fostering simplicity, credibility, certainty and predictability in the country’s monetary and financial system.

New Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Dr John Mushayavanhu last week shared his perspectives on how ZiG and the monetary policy intervention he announced just over a week ago in the 2024 Monetary Policy Statement (MPS) will transform Zimbabwe’s financial affairs.

The country’s new currency will operate alongside several foreign units in the multi-currency regime, legislated to run until 2030, including the US dollar, the pound sterling, the euro, the South Africa rand and Botswana pula.

ZiG shall, the RBZ said, at all times be anchored and fully backed by a composite basket of reserves comprising foreign currency and precious metals (mainly gold) received by the apex bank as part of in-kind royalties and kept in its vaults.

Foreign currency balances will accumulate through market purchases from the 25 percent export surrender requirements, as well as the sale of some precious metals received as royalties.

What has changed?

Responding to questions during an interview with Zimpapers Television Network (ZTN)’s “Beyond the Dollar”, Dr Mushayavanhu said the basket of precious commodities, mainly gold, plus the foreign exchange holdings the bank has, would change the game.

“We are bringing in a new concept in the form of a new currency, which is backed by reserves. RTGS, bond notes were not backed by reserves. This is why they were behaving the way they were behaving.

“So, we decided we have to bring in a new currency, which has a new basis for exchange rate determination and I did explain in the Monetary Policy Statement that the exchange rate for the ZiG is going to be determined by the basket of commodities that is anchoring it.

“Over and above that, it is also going to be determined by the market.

“We had a situation, as I said earlier, RTGS, bond notes were not backed by anything, so we cannot link ZiG to the old currency; it’s a different currency altogether,” he said.

Dr Mushayavanhu said while the bond notes were at some point backed by a US$200 million facility from Afreximbank, the amount of local currency in circulation was exceeded, exposing the local currency to forces of depreciation.

As part of RBZ’s commitment to transparency under his stewardship, Dr Mushayavanhu said the bank opened its vault for all to see that the institution indeed had the gold to back the domestic currency.

“For the first time in the history of the bank, we opened the vault of the central bank for all to see what it is that we have and we did that in the presence of His Excellency, the President of Zimbabwe, and on that day we said we have 2,5 tonnes of gold, which are worth US$185 million as of that day (April 5, 2024) and we have US$100 million Nostro balances, making a total of US$285 million, backing ZiG worth US$80 million.

“Further to that, in the Monetary Policy Statement and Statutory Instrument 60 of 2024, that brought about ZiG, we have mentioned that at least once a year, we are going to be audited and the auditors must confirm how much gold we have, how much other precious metals we have and how much by way of Nostro balances we have to back ZiG, and that is going to be an ongoing process,” he said.

Dr Mushayavanhu pointed out that before even taking the trouble of bringing external auditors, as a show of transparency, the manner the central bank would conduct its business would go a long way in rebuilding the market’s confidence.

“Our behaviour, the way we manage things should convince the Zimbabwean public that the reserves are there. When there is more money in circulation, you feel it, (because there will not be too much money in circulation), and you are not going to see that happening.

“In fact, my fear is that the opposite will happen; we might end up having deflation and we may have to do something, otherwise . . . ,” Dr Mushayavanhu said.

On several occasions since taking over the reins at the RBZ, the Governor pledged his commitment to ensuring the bank strategically manages money supply growth through a disciplined culture, in sync with improved economic activity and increased reserves in the form of precious minerals (mainly gold) and foreign currency balances.

Under a market-determined exchange rate system, the bank will periodically intervene in the market, using foreign exchange reserves from the export surrender component, to maintain a balance between domestic and foreign currency liquidity so that the exchange rate stays stable and at the desired level appropriate to support sustainable economic activities.

The bank will also have other monetary policy instruments such as interest rates and open market operations at its disposal to keep the exchange rate in the desired direction.

“In our case, we have said any further increase in the amount of money in circulation can only happen if we have the reserves,” Dr Mushayavanhu said.

The central bank chief warned economic agents against disposing of their local currency holdings, saying the new unit would likely be in short supply soon, essentially as a result of measures in the MPS.

Dr Mushayavanhu said while it was his wish for all economic players to be disciplined, he had little power to force them to do so. However, he issued a warning against errant conduct, saying “the fundamentals of ZiG will force them” to behave in a disciplined manner.

“What do I mean by that? If anyone wants to bet against ZiG and sell it to the central bank, we will buy; we can buy all of it. We have enough reserves to buy it, all the ZiG in the market, but you will be aware that there are certain measures that we announced in the Monetary Policy Statement.

“We have agreed with the Treasury that come the June QPDs (quarterly payment dates), companies are going to be required to pay 50 percent of their QPD obligations in ZiG. So, they are going to have to look for ZiG and here is the math.

“The ZiG currently in circulation is equivalent to just under US$80 million.

“The Treasury, on a quarterly basis, collects plus or minus US$300 million equivalent. Fifty percent of that is US$150 million; there is not enough ZiG in the whole country to meet that 50 percent.

“So, ZiG is going to be valuable, whether you like it or not,” Dr Mashuyavanhu said in a tacit warning against careless disposal of a currency economic agents will need in bulk soon after.

The bank last week said it had both operational and instrument independence through its board of directors and Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

Further, the bank’s board provides the necessary oversight while the MPC is empowered to formulate and prescribe policies independently.

The bank is also protected against interference by provisions of the RBZ Act.

Source: Sunday Mail

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Politics

Disputed penalty gives Man U draw at Bournemouth as CL qualification slips further away


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BOURNEMOUTH, England — Manchester United needed two penalty decisions to salvage a 2-2 draw at Bournemouth in the English Premier League on Saturday, although the point did little to boost its chances of Champions League soccer next season.

United was largely outplayed and trailed 2-1 when a shot by Kobbie Mainoo from outside the area was deflected onto the arm of Adam Smith. Referee Tony Harrington pointed to the spot even though the ball was traveling away from the goal and the Bournemouth player had little time to react.

Bruno Fernandes converted the 65th-minute penalty for his second goal of the game to secure a point for United, but it was another unconvincing performance from Erik ten Hag’s side that is unlikely to quell speculation about the manager’s future.

Harrington initially awarded Bournemouth an injury-time penalty when Ryan Christie collided with United defender Willy Kambwala as he was running into the box, but a VAR review ruled the foul happened just outside the area.

United still has a slim chance of securing Champions League qualification but couldn’t take full advantage of fifth-placed Tottenham’s loss at Newcastle earlier. United is 10 points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa and Tottenham with six rounds to go. The Champions League’s new format next season means five teams from the Premier League could qualify for the competition.

Man City earns big win over Luton despite rotating squad. Newcastle routs Tottenham at home again
Dominic Solanke gave Bournemouth the lead after shrugging off Kambwala to break into the area and then slotting a low shot past André Onana.

Fernandes equalized by volleying in his second effort from close range but it took only Bournemouth five more minutes to restore its lead as Justin Kluivert was allowed to waltz into the United area unchallenged and beat Onana at his near post.

Milos Kerkez had a great chance to make it 3-1 before halftime but headed against the crossbar, and United was then on the right side of the two penalty decisions in the second half.

Bournemouth was in 12th place, safe from relegation but seemingly with little chance of earning European qualification.

Source: AP

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Politics

Man City earns big win over Luton despite rotating squad. Newcastle routs Tottenham at home again


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LONDON — With some of Manchester City’s regular starters rested, Jeremy Doku and Mateo Kovacic made sure the defending champion didn’t miss a beat in the English Premier League title race.

Kovacic and Doku scored in the second half as Man City pulled away for a comfortable 5-1 win over relegation-threatened Luton on Saturday despite manager Pep Guardiola perhaps having one eye on Wednesday’s game against Real Madrid.

Gaurdiola rested a handful of players — including key midfielder Rodri — but saw the replacements fill in convincingly. Kovacic made it 2-0 in the 51st with a thunderous strike from the edge of the area, while Doku earned the penalty that led to the third goal, scored the fourth himself and assisted on the fifth.

“You cannot play the same people (in every game), it is impossible,” Guardiola said. “Everyone has permission to score and it’s so important.”

The win lifted City into first place, two points ahead of title rivals Arsenal and Liverpool, who both play on Sunday.

It was also a perfect preparation for Madrid’s visit for the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal, after a 3-3 draw in Spain this week. Kevin de Bruyne missed that game with an illness but was back in the starting lineup against Luton, as was goalkeeper Ederson.

And with the three-way title race in the league looking set to go down to the wire, Guardiola knows this was just one of many must-win games the team will face before the end of the season.

“Try and extend (the title race) one more week, one more week, one more week,” Guardiola said. “Today we will sleep top of the league, see tomorrow, and we know what we have to do.”

NEWCASTLE ROUTS SPURS

For the second year in a row, Newcastle handed Tottenham quite the drubbing at St. James’ Park.

After beating Spurs 6-1 at home last April, Newcastle routed Ange Postecoglou’s team 4-0 to damage the visitors’ hopes of a top-four finish. Just like last year, Alexander Isak netted two of the goals to take his season tally to 17 in the league and 21 overall this season.

Anthony Gordon made it 2-0 just 95 seconds after Isak opened the scoring, and added two assists.

“Playing football is really fun at the moment, especially when we have days like this,” Isak said.

It wasn’t a fun day for Tottenham defender Micky van de Ven, though. The center back was partially at fault for the first two goals as he slipped both times and let Isak and Gordon go past him inside the area.

The big loss meant Tottenham dropped below Aston Villa into fifth, behind on goal difference.

Newcastle was sixth, 10 points behind Villa and Tottenham.

PENALTY DECISIONS HELP UNITED

Two penalty decisions helped Manchester United earn a 2-2 draw at Bournemouth, although any chance of qualifying for the Champions League seems to be quickly slipping away.

Tottenham’s loss gave United a chance to cut the gap but Erik ten Hag’s team was 10 points behind fourth place with six games to go, after four league matches without a win.

“We know when you come into the final stage of the season, that is not enough,” Ten Hag said. “But the truth is, today we didn’t deserve more.”

Indeed, this was another performance that suggested this United was still far, far away from challenging Europe’s elite.

Only a soft penalty in the 65th minute helped Bruno Fernandes equalize with his second goal of the game. Referee Tony Harrington pointed to the spot when a deflected shot hit the arm of Adam Smith in the area.

Harrington then awarded Bournemouth an injury-time penalty when Ryan Christie collided with United defender Willy Kambwala as he was running into the box, but it was overturned after VAR ruled the foul happened just outside the area.

RELEGATION BATTLE TIGHTENS

The relegation battle tightened as Nottingham Forest and Burnley couldn’t take full advantage of Luton’s loss, with both settling for a draw.

Forest drew with Wolves 2-2 despite Morgan Gibbs-White scoring against his former club after being set up by a corner from U.S. international Gio Reyna, who made his first start for the club. Matheus Cunha scored twice for Wolves, including a 62nd-minute equalizer.

A mistake by goalkeeper Aro Muric cost Burnley in a 1-1 draw with Brighton. Josh Brownhill capitalized on a poor back pass by Carlos Baleba in the 74th minute to give Burnley the lead but Muric then let a routine pass from Sander Berge slip in under his foot.

That left Burnley still six points from safety in 19th place while Forest was 17th, one point above Luton.

Last-placed Sheffield United inched ever closer to relegation after losing 2-0 to Brentford, which ended a nine-game winless skid.

Brentford sat seven points above Luton with five games remaining.

Source: AP

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