HARARE – Former Finance minister Ignatius Chombo who is currently out on stringent bail conditions over a slew of charges was back at the Harare Magistrates Court yesterday on fresh allegations of contravening the Prevention of Corruption Act and bribery.
The ex-Zanu PF secretary for administration allegedly demanded a $300 000 bribe from property mogul, Eddies Pfugari, in return to displacing illegal settlers who had occupied the businessman’s Whitecliff Farm, situated on the outskirts of the capital city.
Chombo was represented by Lovemore Madhuku when he appeared before Harare magistrate, Rumbidzayi Mugwagwa.
Prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba consented to have the same bail conditions imposed by the High Court on Chombo’s first court appearance apply in the present matter.
This entails that Chombo will continue reporting three times a day at Marlborough Police Station, remains barred from visiting the ministry of Local Government offices and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, continues residing at his present address and not interfere with witnesses until his cases are finalised.
During his initial court appearance, Chombo was made to deposit $5000 bail and surrender his passport and title deeds to his mansion worth about $700 000.
In the current matter, the complainant is Pfugari of Eddies Pfugari Property Developers (Private) Limited, represented by the company’s managing director, Edward Nyanyiwa.
The State alleges that sometime in 1997 Pfugari purchased Whitecliff Farm from Fredrick John William Smith and the property was transferred under Deed of Transfer number 10444/2000.
The court heard that prior to the acquisition of the property, government had a certificate of “no present interest” in respect of the land and based on that understanding Pfugari was granted a subdivision permit.
He subsequently divided the farm into residential stands and began selling the stands to prospective home owners.
Sometime in 2000, Chombo who was then Local Government minister used his authority to allocate the residential stands to illegal settlers within Pfugari’s property.
According to the State, Chombo’s conduct disrupted a lawful housing scheme by abusing his office and acting unlawfully.
Pfugari subsequently lost property valued at $200 million.
It was further alleged that Chombo appeared to be sympathetic to Pfugari for his loss and reportedly invited him to his office assuring him he would remove the illegal settlers from his land.
Chombo claimed he would use his political muscle on condition that Pfugari gave him a consideration or reward in the form of a piece of land from his property in Norton where he was selling residential stands.
Since Pfugari was desperate at that time, he gave Chombo stand number 5841 Knowe Norton measuring 3 712 acres valued at $310 150.
Pfugari was advised to transfer the stand into Ronchelle Trading (Private) Limited, a company whose directors are Nimrod Chiminya (Chombo’s brother) and Kumbirai Mubwandarika under Deed of Transfer number 10761/02.
The shelf company was allegedly bought and used specifically for this transaction.