Gudyanga’s appeal against graft jail term flops

Source: Gudyanga’s appeal against graft jail term flops | Herald (Crime)

Francis Gudyanga

Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter

THE High Court has upheld the conviction and four-year jail sentence against former Mines and Mining Development Permanent Secretary Professor Francis Gudyanga, ruling the conviction was correct and the sentence appropriate.

Gudyanga was in February this year jailed for corruptly receiving sitting allowances for the board of the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe while that board was not in place.

His four-year term will be cut to 30 months if he pays back the money.

He took the matter up to the High Court on appeal against both conviction and sentence, arguing that he never stole from the State, and that in any case the sentence induced a sense of shock.

But Justice Benjamin Chikowero upheld the conviction and ruled that Gudyanga deserved the sentence, finding it was not, as the appeal said, manifestly excessive and it certainly did not induce any sense of shock.

“The appellant was afforded an opportunity to undergo only two and half years’ imprisonment if he restituted,” said Justice Chikowero adding that the sentence compared favourably with that imposed on former Cabinet Minister Samuel Undenge.

Harare regional magistrate Mrs Barbra Chimboza in February sentenced Gudyanga to four years in jail before setting aside 18 months on condition that he pays back the US$25 225 he received in sitting allowances from the defunct board.

Justice Chikowero vindicated the sentence saying any corrupt person is a danger to the community, hence was satisfied that the trial magistrate judicially exercised her discretion by balancing the mitigating and aggravating circumstances.

The trial magistrate gave sound reasons for excluding a non-custodial sentence, said Justice Chikowero.

In his appeal, Gudyanga argued that even if his conviction was upheld, the sentence should have been two years with 18 months suspended on condition that he did not commit a similar offence and the final six months suspended on condition he repaid the allowances he received within one month of the date of sentence.

This would mean that if he paid back the money he would do no jail time.

His main ground of appeal against conviction was that the court relied on bank statements showing the inflow of the US$25 228 but that there was no evidence led that this money came from the MMCZ as board fees.

The second ground was that the conviction was for receiving US$25 228, but the original charge had a different sum.

He also sought to argue that his co-accused who was acquitted at the close of the State’s case, former Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa, was his principal who assigned the duties, approved payments and appointed Gudyanga to do the duties of the board chairperson of MMCZ.

Gudyanga argued that he could not be convicted once the then minister was cleared. His case became one of the country’s most high-profile corruption trials as the Government seeks to stamp out corruption.

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