Zvikomborero Parafini, Court Reporter
Former Local Housing minister Ignatius Chombo was yesterday removed from remand after the State’s case collapsed due to lack of co-operation from the ministry’s permanent secretary to produce the required paperwork timeously.
Chombo and his alleged accomplice Lazarus Chimba who were accused of selling a government house in Mutare without following due process were yesterday removed from remand by senior regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya after the State had on numerous occasions promised to put its house in order.
On the last hearing, the State promised to secure a policy document from the Local Government ministry.
The policy document was supposed to set out the duo’s duties as public officers so as to determine whether or not they had violated their positions in any way.
Representing the State, George Manokore said the ministry’s permenant secretary hadn’t been helpful in the acquisition of the document.
“On the last date we promised to serve the defence with the policy document, the Investigating officer approached the permanent secretary and was told that they required more time to locate the documents as the ministry had been split into two.
“There were further indications that that when the ministry was split, there was no handover-takeover of documents hence they have no idea where the documents could be so the State is seeking one last chance to secure the document,” said Manokore.
Before Chombo’s response to Manokore’s application for postponement, presiding magistrate Mujaya questioned why there was difficulty in tracing the documents even to other offices.
Representing Chombo, Professor Lovemore Madhuku objected the application saying that the document didn’t exist and prayed that the duo should be removed from remand as promised by the court in the previous hearing.
“That document because it shows whether or not they acted in their accordance with their duties, they cannot plead without that document, failure to bring the document after such a time shows that it doesn’t exist.
“They should be removed from remand until the State can produce the document,” said Madhuku.
Mujaya declined further remanded and ordered the State to summon the two when they put their house in order.
Allegations are that sometime in 2000, Joyce Munamati, who was the acting provincial registrar for Manicaland Province, and Fred Kanzama, a former Member of Parliament for Mutare South constituency, were in a relationship which produced a son although they were not living together.
The court heard that year Munamati occupied No. 16 Kipling Road, Fairbridge Park, Mutare, a Government house which was reserved for provincial registrars for Manicaland Province.
It is the State’s case that on March 1 2000 Munamati signed a lease agreement with the then Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development at Mutare Provincial Public Works office, for occupation of the said house.
The court heard that sometime in 2007 Munamati submitted an application to buy the house to the then acting provincial public works officer Manicaland under the then Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development.
It is alleged that the application was forwarded to the Secretary of Local Government Public Works and Urban Development, without objection.
Chimba allegedly objected to the request citing a shortage of rented accommodation for officers in general.
The court heard that Kanzama approached Chombo and expressed his desire to purchase the property.
Chombo allegedly instructed Chimba to sell the house and to prepare an agreement of sale between Kanzama and his ministry.
Chimba, acting in common purpose with Chombo, entered into an agreement of sale with Kanzama as the purchaser at a cost of ZW70 trillion which was duly paid, the court heard.
It is the State’s case that Chombo and Chimba, being public officers, unlawfully and intentionally acted contrary to or inconsistent with their duties by showing favour to Kanzama and disfavour to Munamati.