FORMER Cabinet minister Ignatius Chombo will find out his fate today after spending the night behind bars awaiting his bail ruling.
He was not asked to plead when he appeared before Harare magistrate Stanford Mambanje facing five counts of criminal abuse of office and one count of fraud.
Allegations are that between 2000-2015, Chombo, who was by then the minister of Local Government, illegally caused desperate land seekers to deposit into the Ignatius Chombo Housing Co-operative Agribank account number various amounts of money for land development purposes.
The State alleges that he misrepresented to the home seekers that he would allocate stands to them at Kia Ora farm in Zvimba Rural District but he failed to do so.
It is further alleged that he used his influence to allocate himself 125 commonage stands at Haydon Farm in Zvimba, five low density stands at Philadelphia Farm, several stands at Carrick Creigh Farm and signed a deed of settlement in relation to Stoneridge Farm with Pinnacle Holdings without having been authorised to do so by cabinet.
Representing Chombo, Professor Lovemore Madhuku did not oppose placement on remand and told the court they were not waiving their rights but were prioritising his rights to liberty.
“He’s already on remand in respect of the other records listed on the request for remand form we would want to ensure that the court takes judicial notice of those records and he’s on bail. We are not opposing placement on remand to prioritise his right to liberty but it will be challenged at a later stage,” he said.
On behalf of the State, Charles Muchemwa opposed bail arguing that there are compelling reasons justifying his continued detention.
“The State is opposing the granting of bail and it’s alive to the provisions of the constitution in terms of section 50 which states that bail is right. It gives a provision that where there are compelling reasons justifying the granting of bail, it should not be granted.
“The State has compelling reasons justifying the continued detention of the accused person and the first reason is that he is already on remand. It’s worthy to note that the allegations he’s facing today, may range to the period of the cases to which he is already on remand.
“That may induce him to become he’s a flight risk. Accused is a man of means and allegations against him are of a serious nature.
“He is well travelled and has numerous connections outside the country where he can be accommodated and this may attract him to flee the country, he’s a former minister of local government and a former senior government official who during his tenure of office managed to establish connections outside the country,” he said.