Chombo clashes with own probe team


Local government minister Ignatius Chombo is on a collision course with Andrew Makoni, the leader of a probe team he appointed to investigate alleged corruption by Harare city councillors, over whether or not the city fathers should be allowed legal representation.
Chombo last week said the councillors implicated in the alleged illegal eviction of tenants in Harare’s high density suburb of Highfield were free to seek legal counsel but Makoni argues they do not need legal representation because they were witnesses in the hearings set for tomorrow.
“It’s fair to give everyone a fair hearing, so the councillors are free to seek legal advice. If they (councillors) can’t defend themselves, they can get a lawyer to defend them,” Chombo said.
Although NewsDay could not get a comment from Makoni by the time of going to print, Alec Muchadehama, representing the councillors said he was baffled by Makoni’s attitude and said: “The councillors received summons to appear before the probe team last week but Makoni said they were not allowed legal representation. He (Makoni) argued that there was no legal provision to allow those appearing before the probe team to bring lawyers.”
Muchadehama argued that it was the councillors’ constitutional right to seek legal representation and asked: “If they are now said to be witnesses in cases in which they are the accused, who are they testifying against?”
Councillors Herbert Gomba (Ward 27, Glen Norah), Peter Marange (Ward 29, Glen Norah), Maxwell Katsande (Ward 26, Highfield), Job Mbadzi (Ward 24, Highfield), Johnson Zaranyika (Ward 39 Dzivarasekwa) and Silas Machetu (Ward 25, Highfield) stand accused of illegally evicting tenants from council houses.
If found guilty, the councillors face the chop.