Incarcerated former Cabinet minister and Zanu PF secretary for administration, Ignatious Chombo, who was arrested by the military during Operation Restore Legacy, a fortnight ago, is set to spend his second weekend behind bars after his bail appeal was postponed to next Wednesday.
BY CHARLES LAITON
The former Finance minister is being charged with fraud, criminal abuse of office and corruption.
Through his team of lawyers, Chombo appeared at the High Court yesterday before Justice Clement Phiri, but the matter could not be argued, as the State sought its postponement to enable it to file a response.
During the brief hearing, prosecutor, Tapiwa Kasema told the court that the Prosecutor-General’s Office had found it difficult to respond to Chombo’s application because he (Chombo) had filed an indecipherable court record.
“The State is seeking the postponement of the matter to December 6 to enable it to file a response. However, I have also liaised with the defence to ensure that they obtain a transcribed record of proceedings because I could not decipher some of the handwriting,” Kasema said.
The prosecutor’s sentiments were also echoed by Justice Phiri, who said even if the defence was ready to argue the matter, there were other issues that needed to be attended to before the matter could be dealt with.
“Do you think we have a proper application before this court?” Justice Phiri asked Chombo’s lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku, saying: “In all fairness, the handwriting is not legible and in any event there is no State response. Besides, if you look at your papers, there is the issue of pagination and the application is also not signed.”
The matter was eventually postponed by consent.
In his bail appeal, Chombo has offered to quit politics and go into full time farming or return to teaching practice if granted an opportunity to go out.
Chombo held several ministerial positions during former President Robert Mugabe’s government, where he is alleged to have abused his powers and office.
“Appellant (Chombo) has been a Member of Parliament and Cabinet minister for the past 20 years. He ceased being a Cabinet minister upon the assumption of office of President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) on November 24, 2017. He ceased being a Member of Parliament on November 28, 2017. He is a farmer and may return to his former job as a university lecturer,” Madhuku said in the appeal.
On Monday, provincial magistrate, Elisha Singano denied Chombo bail on the basis that he was a flight risk, likely to interfere with investigations and could be harmed by the public, which is angry over his corruption charges.
But in his appeal, Chombo said Singano had misdirected himself in denying him his right to liberty, arguing there was neither evidence nor any basis from which it could be said he was likely to abscond.