BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
FORMER Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo yesterday appeared in court facing criminal abuse of office charges for allegedly facilitating the sale of a government house in Mutare to ex-Zanu PF legislator for Mutare South, Fred Kanzama.
Chombo, who is facing several other corruption charges, appeared before magistrate Barbara Mateko, who remanded him out of custody on the same bail conditions given to him by the High Court on other charges he is facing.
The former minister is being charged together with former valuations and estate management director Lazarus Chimba and was represented by Lovemore Madhuku, instructed by Tungamirai Muganhiri.
Allegations are that sometime in 2000, Joyce Munamati, who was acting provincial registrar for Manicaland, and Kanzama were involved in a relationship, which resulted in the two having a son, but they were not staying together.
It is alleged that during the same period, Munamati then occupied the government house, which was reserved for provincial registrars for Manicaland province.
On March 1, 2000, Munamati then signed a lease agreement which was entered into between her and Chombo’s ministry at Mutare Provincial Public Works for the occupation of the said house.
The State avers that sometime in 2007 Munamati, being a sitting tenant and a government employee, submitted an application to then acting provincial public works officer to purchase the house and the application was forwarded to the Local
Government secretary with no objection to the request.
Chimba, however, objected to the request, citing shortage of accommodation.
Kanzama, who was not a civil servant or a sitting tenant, having knowledge that
Munamati’s application to purchase the property was turned down, then approached
Chombo and expressed his desire to purchase the property.
Chombo allegedly gave verbal instructions to Chimba that he had to sell the house and prepare an agreement of sale between Kanzama and the Public Works ministry.
It is further alleged that Chimba, acting in common purpose with Chombo, gave instructions to one Shingirirayi Chekure to complete an account opening sheet in the name of Kanzama to facilitate payment for the purchase of the property leading to
Kanzama paying ZW$70 trillion.
The State charges that when Chombo and Chimba connived to sell the property to Kanzama, they knew very well that he was not entitled to benefit because he was not a civil servant.