Chombo picked up on fresh charges

HARARE - Former Cabinet minister Ignatius Chombo was last night picked up by the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission (Zacc) on fresh charges relating to settlement of victims of Operation Murambatsvina families on White Cliff farm during his time at the Local Government ministry.

Zacc alleges that this happened during the government sanctioned national programme code named Garikai/ Hlalani Kuhle, which was introduced by Zanu PF government to resettle the victims of the Operation Murambatsvina which displaced nearly a million people in 2005.

Ignatious Chombo

Ignatious Chombo

“We are here at the Zacc where ... Chombo has been made to sign a warned and cautioned statement.

“This time the charges are funny and relate to the Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle programme. They allege that the land did not belong to government and belonged to Pfugari Properties which raised the complaint. They say he acted on his own.

“... Chombo was acting on instructions of government and was part of a Cabinet committee… in that case we have told Zacc that they might as well bring in the late Vice President Joseph Msika who was in charge of the Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle programme,” Chombo’s lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku told the Daily News last night.

He was hopeful that Zacc would not surrender Chombo into the hands of police since he was already on bail.

“They can’t detain him because he’s already in the hands of the State. If they want him they know where to find him… since they gave him very stringent bail reporting conditions. If they detain him that would be in breach of the law,” said Madhuku.

The 65-year-old is already on bail for allegations that relate to his tenure, again, during his time as Local Government minister.

The former University of Zimbabwe lecturer was recently released from Chikurubi Maximum Prison where he had been on remand for nearly two weeks.

Chombo who is a former Zanu PF secretary for administration is facing a slew of charges which could potentially earn him a combined 55 years in prison if convicted on all the three counts he is facing.

Chombo has been charged with criminal abuse of office, contravening the Prevention of Corruption Act and fraud with the State saying his alleged activities prejudiced it of $3, 6 million.

The maximum sentences on fraud are 35 years, criminal abuse of office, 15 years and contravening Prevention of Corruption Act, 5 years.

Chombo was seized by the military in the early hours of November 15 in an operation which led to former president Robert Mugabe being placed under house arrest and later his resignation.

He was released into the custody of the police on November 23 and was rushed to hospital for treatment on injuries he claimed were sustained during the time he was in military detention.

Last week, Chombo was granted $ 5000 bail coupled with stringent conditions by the High Court after he had been made to languish in remand prison at the Chikurubi Maximum holding centre by a Harare magistrate who had initially refused him bail.

Chombo will be back in court in January.