Business tycoon Chiyangwa, Harare mayor battle hots up

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Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda and eight councillors will reappear before the courts tomorrow on criminal defamation charges involving property magnate Philip Chiyangwa who was implicated in massive land grab cases.
Chiyangwa reported the Mayor and councillors to the police for defaming him after local and international media ran stories based on reports contained in the 54-page council report, which at the time was incomplete.
Masunda and the eight councillors are currently on $20 bail each.
Lawyer Alec Muchadehama yesterday said he had made an urgent High Court Chamber application challenging his clients’ placement on remand and that the trial should proceed before that application was considered.
“We have made an urgent High Court application arguing that pending a review of the city fathers’ placement on bail, the trial be deferred,” Muchadehama said.
The eight councillors investigated the alleged land scandal in Harare during the period 2004 – 2009 where they allegedly unearthed “serious scams” that implicated Chiyangwa, Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, former chairperson of the commission that ran the city of Harare, Sekesai Makwavarara and other senior council officials.
Councillors led by then acting Mayor Charity Bango made a counter report to Harare Central Police but to date, no action has been taken.
The police are arguing that the report made by the city fathers was too voluminous and inaccurate.
Councillors argue that the report they made was straightforward and there was no need for police to keep on changing goal posts.
“The report made to the police cannot be any clearer and we suspect that all the frustrations we have received from the police are only meant to demoralise us so that we may give up on the case,” said one councillor who declined to be named.
Five journalists have also been roped in to testify against the councillors. The journalists are Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) Editor-In-Chief Vincent Kahiya, Standard newspaper editor Nevanji Madanhire, Feluna Nleya and Jennifer Dube, co-authors of the story along with freelance journalist Stanley Gama.
Councillors fear the police seem to have swept the matter under the carpet as several visits to inquire on the status of the report have hit a brickwall.