FORMER Finance minister Ignatius Chombo , who is facing a plethora of charges after the military-led Operation Restore Legacy removed President Robert Mugabe from power last year, appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Court yesterday facing a criminal abuse of office charge after he allegedly demanded 25% shares in a fish farming company.
Chombo (66) was not asked to plead when he appeared before magistrate, Victoria Mashamba, who remanded him out of custody to March 8 on the same bail conditions he was granted on the initial remand.
The complainant in the matter is the State represented by the complainant Chargan Vithal Rama.
Chombo allegedly committed the offence when he was the Local Government minister.
Allegations are that in 2001, Rama got a 60-year lease for stand number 554/547 Chirundu Fish Farm expiring in 2054.
It is alleged sometime in 2007 after making developments worth $500 000 on the fish farm, Rama ran out of money and approached banks for funding.
All the banks he approached demanded surety in the form of title deeds for the land on which the fish farming was taking place.
The State alleges on a certain date in 2007, Rama, through facilitation of his brother, Amrat Vithal, who at one time was a councillor in Chirundu, arranged for a meeting with Chombo at his office. The aim of the meeting was allegedly to ask Chombo to facilitate the issue of the title deeds.
It is alleged sometime towards the end of 2007; Rama approached Chombo and presented his case. But Chombo allegedly suggested that they meet at his house.
It is the State’s case that sometime in February 2008 , Rama, his brother and son went to Chombo’s house. Chombo allegedly advised them that it was possible to get the title deeds on condition that Rama surrendered 25% shares of the business to him.
Chombo allegedly made it clear that the 25% was for the facilitation of the title deeds.
Rama allegedly advised Chombo that he would consider the condition and come back, but he did not return. It is alleged on December 12, 2009 after realising that Rama had failed to give him the shares, Chombo allegedly caused the withdrawal on the lease.
It is alleged that in early February 2012, Chombo gave verbal instructions to his subordinates to lease the same property to Glory Boost without following proper procedures.
The State alleges Chombo, as a public officer,\ had no right to solicit for a favour in the form of shareholding and had no right to withdraw the lease.
Eddie Nyazamba appeared for the State. – NewsDay