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Prosecutor Reduces Charges Against Mutare District Registrars

Magistrates' Court
In a surprise move, the prosecution has withdrawn its invocation of Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act and reduced charges against Sakubva district registrars Donald Musiiwa Denya and Tichafara Musana.

Mr. Denya remains accused of breaching the Electoral Act, while Mr. Musana remains accused of bribery. The reversal allowed the men to post bail of $50 each and secure their release. No reasons were given for the change.

Prosecutor Janerose Matsikidze says the state decided to drop one charge against each of the accused.

She says for Denya, the state withdrew its allegation of criminal abuse of office, preferring the charge of breaching the Electoral Act. Against Musana, the state dropped a charge of fraud, leaving bribery.

The state did not say why it withdrew its application of the controversial Section 121, which critics say is often invoked to keep suspects accused of working against Zanu PF behind bars pending appeal.

Denya and Musana were released, on conditions, this afternoon after posting $50 bail. Their lawyer, Passmore Nyakureba, says the two men will return to court next week.

Denya is accused of having registered nine youths as voters without the youths’ presence.

Musana is accused of bringing the names of the nine youths to Denya to have them registered as voters. Musana also allegedly signed for them, which the Electoral Act does not permit. The law states that a person must be present to register as a voter.
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Mutare City Council Ordered to Reinstate Sacked Workers

In other Mutare news, an independent arbitrator has ordered the Mutare City Council to reinstate 12 contract employees it fired last July following an alleged fallout with city councilors.

Independent arbitrator Noah Ariel Mutongoreni instructed Mutare on December 27 to re-engage the “employees on their jobs without loss of salary and benefits and if reinstatement is no longer tenable that they be paid damages.”

Mutongereni said the employees had been unfairly dismissed as they had a legitimate expectation of being re-hired, but that other people had been engaged in their stead. He said both parties should share the cost of the arbitration.

The 12 employees were dismissed after they allegedly assaulted Ward 2 Councilor Pamela Mutare earlier last year. The contract workers were employed in various council departments, including the departments of the city engineer, health, and parks. All were engaged on three-month, renewable contracts.

According to a document from Mutongoreni, the employees’ contracts were terminated on July 3 for allegedly “crossing the path of councilors.” The document says the applicants were advised by the human resources office to apologize to their respective councilors.
Mutare City Council human resources manager Aaron Chemvura said he had not seen the ruling"

The document claims that even after apologies were made, the applicants were told they would not be reemployed by their respective councilors, Pamela Mutare, George Jerison and Morgan Chipara.

Mr. Jerison, Mutare’s acting mayor, said he was yet to get a copy of Mutongoreni’s ruling. The respondent to the matter, Mutare City Council human resources manager Aaron Chemvura, also said he had not seen the ruling.

Mutare Parents Scramble as School Days Approach

This week saw parents in Mutare desperate to ensure their children have school uniforms and extra food for those at boarding schools or, in some cases, even a place at school. The city was abuzz with activity as parents made last-minute buys.

Parent Moreblessing Nyika says the pre-back-to-school scramble makes January a stressful month for parents.

Parent Trust Dziruni laments he is yet to get school places for his two children at urban schools, as they are all full.

Dziruni says school heads have informed him that places have not increased compared to the number of children looking for places.