The trial of Sybeth Musengezi, a political activist accused of fraudulently joining ZANU PF party structures, resumed yesterday with his defense counsel attempting to discredit the State’s witness testimony as hearsay.
The State’s first witness, Godwills Masimirembwa, the ZANU PF chairman for Harare province, testified about their discovery that Musengezi was not a party member. Through investigations into the party’s cell register, it was revealed that Musengezi had provided two different addresses, neither of which he resided at or visited.
Musengezi’s legal counsel, Mr. Nqobani Sithole and Mr. Doug Coltart, sought to have Masimirembwa’s testimony disregarded, arguing that it was based on hearsay rather than firsthand information. However, the prosecutor, Mr. Tafara Chirambira, challenged this objection, stating that it was up to the court to determine which parts of Masimirembwa’s testimony were admissible, and therefore, the trial should proceed.
Masimirembwa presented evidence from the ZANU PF 2017 and 2019 registers for the Hatcliffe district to demonstrate that Musengezi was not listed as a party member in those records.
Musengezi’s defense counsel objected to the admission of these documents as exhibits, arguing that their client was neither the author nor the custodian of the records. Mr. Chirambira countered that Masimirembwa, as the party’s representative, was qualified to tender such documents.
Magistrate Mrs. Yeukai Dzuda adjourned briefly to review the submissions and make a ruling on whether the cell registers could be admitted as exhibits. She determined that the documents were of public nature and had been properly included in the record, allowing the trial to proceed.
During the cross-examination, Masimirembwa informed the court that Musengezi’s name did not appear in the ZANU PF cell registers for the year 2020. He further stated that during the cell registration exercise conducted in 2023, Musengezi’s name was once again absent from the current cell registers in Harare province, indicating that he was not a party member.
Masimirembwa revealed that investigations into Musengezi’s records were initiated due to his application at the High Court, challenging President Mnangagwa’s legitimacy. According to Masimirembwa, all party members are expected to follow the internal grievance procedure outlined in the ZANU PF constitution, which Musengezi failed to do.
Musengezi’s lawyers dismissed Masimirembwa’s testimony, claiming that there was no document presented to the court appointing him as the party’s representative in this matter. Masimirembwa maintained that his position as chairman automatically entitled him to represent the party, and if necessary, he could provide a resolution from the party to support his authority.
The cross-examination is scheduled to continue on June 13.