By Fidelis Munyoro
Former Cabinet minister Ignatius Chombo has failed in his appeal to get his passport returned to allow him to travel abroad to seek medical attention.
His passport was allegedly recently seized by a State security agent at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport as he was about to fly to South Africa for a medical review.
Through his lawyer, Professor Lovemore Madhuku, Chombo appealed to the Supreme Court seeking an order to compel a Harare Magistrates’ Courts clerk to release his travel document, to enable him to proceed with his journey.
He had previously unsuccessfully appealed to the High Court, which ruled that he needed to exhaust alternative remedies available to him first before approaching the court for relief.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court’s three-member bench, led by Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza was unanimous in its dismissal of the appeal, citing lack of merit.
The other members of the bench were Justices Antonia Guvava and Chinembiri Bhunu.
Announcing the decision, Justice Gwaunza said the court had made due consideration in rejecting Chombo’s appeal.
“The appeal lacks merit,” she said. “It is the court’s view that the appeal ought to be dismissed and full reasons of the order will follow in due course.”
Chombo’s passport was seized last month and handed back to the Harare Magistrates Courts under unclear circumstances.
He was about to check-in into a South African-bound Fastjet airline when the passport was seized.
Speaking after the court ruling, Prof Madhuku said the decision of the court was binding and they accepted it.
“That is the end of the matter regarding the passport issue,” he said.
“It means the taking away of the passport at the airport and taking it back to the Clerk of Court is acceptable according to the courts.
“So we accept the ruling, we are bound by it. This is the highest court as far as that matter is concerned.”
Prof Madhuku, however, said in any case his client was supposed to return the passport this Friday.
Chombo’s appeal at the High Court was dismissed and he was ordered to go back to the lower court and exhaust all alternative remedies, including filing for contempt of court charges against the Clerk of Court, who is alleged to have refused to release his passport despite an extant order.
Mr Addington Chinake, who acted for the respondents that included the Clerk of Court and the Judicial Service Commission , asked the court to reject the appeal, arguing that Chombo had alternative remedies to deal with his case other than seeking the intervention of the superior courts. The Herald