Harare - Former Zimbabwean finance and economic development minister Ignatius Chombo and two Zanu-PF youth league leaders appeared in the Harare Magistrate's Court on Saturday on several different charges and were remanded in custody.
Chombo, 66, who is also former Zanu-PF secretary for administration; former Zanu-PF youth league leader Kudzanayi Chipanga; and former youth league political commissar Innocent Hamandishe appeared before different magistrates.
The three are reportedly part of a Zanu-PF faction, the G40, and were expelled from the governing party last Sunday, following a Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF) takeover four days earlier, which the ZDF said targeted "criminals" around former president Robert Mugabe.
They were shown the door together with Mugabe and his wife Grace, as well as former vice president Phelekezela Mphoko and former ministers Patrick Zhuwao, Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere, Paul Chimedza, and Walter Mzembi, among others.
Edmore Nyazamba, of the attorney general’s office, appeared for the State along with Tapiwa Kasenga and Francisca Mukumbiri, while Chombo and Chipanga were represented by Lovemore Madhuku and Hamandishe by Emmanuel Samundombe.
Appearing before Magistrate Elisha Singano, Chombo was charged with contravening section 4(a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The prosecution accused him of abusing his position as a minister and corruptly selling a plot of land in 1997. He allegedly connived with seven other people and fraudulently sold the plot to one Alois Chimeri, which resulted in the City of Harare being prejudiced by US$900,000.
On the abuse of office charge, the State said that in 2006 Chombo, then local government, public works, and national housing minister, corruptly apportioned an open piece of land for the development of cluster houses to a company of which he was a co-director. The State said the land was valued at the time at ZW$23.3 trillion, now equivalent to US$2.7 million.
On the fraud charge, the prosecution said Chombo borrowed ZW$14 billion from the CBZ Bank which he allegedly claimed he wanted to use under the “other crops and livestock facility” programme, which was being run by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. The State said he then used the funds for purposes other than intended.
Madhuku applied for refusal of remand, arguing that his client had been in custody longer than he should legally have been. Chombo told how armed people clad in military fatigues raided his posh Mt Pleasant house on November 15 and took him to an unidentified location where he was kept blindfolded for nine days. He said while in those people’s custody he was granted access to a medical doctor.
Singano dismissed Chombo’s application, saying he had been in police custody for less than 48 hours and there was no evidence to suggest that his captors were state agents.
Hamandishe and Chipanga were accused of causing "disaffection" among the police and defence force. The allegations were premised on a press conference the Zanu-PF youth league held on November 14, where Hamandishe and Chipanga allegedly denigrated ZDF commander General Constantino Chiwenga.
Hamandishe also faces six counts of kidnapping. He and six others allegedly kidnapped six people from Chitungwiza, bundled them into several cars, and assaulted them, accusing them of being part of the "Gamatox", a faction allegedly aligned to former vice president Joice Mujuru, who was unceremoniously sacked from both Zanu-PF and government in December 2014.
Chipanga told Magistrate Josephine Sande how he was taken away from police custody at Borrowdale police station by armed people, whom he said he could not identify. Sande ruled against the application for refusal of remand, saying Chipanga was also in police custody for a period less than 48 hours.
Hamandishe appeared before Magistrate Hosea Mujaya, who remanded him in custody to December 8. Chombo and Chipanga were remanded in custody to Monday, November 27 for a bail ruling.