FORMER Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, arrested on Tuesday on charges of illegally parcelling out land in Harare and Zvimba, will spend another night in custody after his bail ruling was deferred to today.
Harare regional magistrate, Mr Stanford Mambanje indicated that he was still working on the submissions made during the bail application and expects to make the ruling today.
Chombo is facing fraud and five counts of criminal abuse of office charges.
His charges arose from the report by the Commission of Inquiry chaired by Justice Tendai Uchena into a swathe of illegal land transactions, allocations and development.
Mr Charles Muchemwa and Mr Ephraim Zinyandu, appearing for the State, opposed the granting of bail to Chombo saying he was likely to interfere with witnesses and could flee Zimbabwe.
They argued that Chombo was a man of high standing in the country and beyond the country’s borders, expressing fears that he might go beyond the jurisdiction of the court.
The State argued that Chombo is a well-travelled man with connections outside the country, who might be sympathetic to him.
In opposing bail, the State claimed the former minister was still held in high esteem in the community and expressed fears that he will be able to interfere with witnesses because of the position he holds in society.
In his bail application, Chombo told the court that the Ignatius Chombo Housing Cooperative that he allegedly used to fleece homeseekers, did not exist.
He also denied owning the companies that the State alleges were allocated stands on State land.
Chombo told the court that he never instructed officials at Ministry of Local Government to sign any title deed as the State alleges, saying such signing was done as a result of a court order.
He said issues surrounding the Odar Farm were dealt with at the Constitutional Court while the Supreme Court made an order on Stoneridge Farm.
Professor Lovemore Madhuku, who is representing Chombo along Mr Tungamirai Muganhiri, applied that the same bail conditions that Chombo was granted at the High Court on other related charges, should be extended to his new charges.
He indicated that Chombo was prepared to deposit more title deeds as bail surety.
Prof Madhuku told the court that Chombo surrendered himself to the police, which was not consistent with a person harbouring intentions to evade trial.
Circumstances leading to his arrest are that between 2000 and 2015, when he was Minister of Local Government, Chombo allegedly caused homeseekers to deposit money into Ignatius Chombo Housing Cooperative’s Agribank account for land development.
It is alleged that Chombo promised to allocate the homeseekers stands on Kia Ora Farm under Zvimba Rural District Council.
Further allegations are that during the same period, he used his influence as minister and allocated to himself 125 commonage stands in Haydon Park and another five low density commonage stands in Philadelphia Farm in Harare. The stands were allegedly surrendered by Misheck Mangwende.
Chombo is also accused of allocating stands to companies he allegedly owns — Comverol Enterprise (Pvt) Ltd, Cayford and Cavford (Pvt) Ltd in Carrick Creagh Farm in Harare — without paying for the stands.
He also allegedly sold State land at Order Farm to Sensene Investments (Pvt) Limited and is alleged to have instructed officers at the Local Government Ministry to sign a Deed of Settlement for Stoneridge Farm for Phillip Chiyangwa’s Pinnacle Holdings without Cabinet approval.
Chombo has been appearing in court for fraud and criminal abuse office cases.