By Richard Muponde
PRESIDENTIAL Affairs minister Joram Gumbo was never arrested for criminal abuse of office, but he was just being interviewed on the goings on in parastatals which fell under his previous ministry and could be a State witness, his lawyer Selby Hwacha claimed yesterday.
The minister was “arrested” on Monday and brought to court on Tuesday, but did not appear before a magistrate after a call was reportedly made to Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) officers to bring him back to the police station.
Indications were that there was an intention to press more charges against him.
He was brought to court on allegations of corruptly acquiring US$1 million from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to renovate a property belonging to his relative, Mavis Gumbo on the pretext that it was meant for rent and other expenses for Zimbabwe Airways head office.
Hwacha yesterday said his client was never arrested and was astonished by the fuss about him appearing in court.
“Zacc officers went to his house on Friday and saw his wife who advised them that he was in Victoria Falls. They phoned him, advising him that they wanted to interview him and left their numbers,” Hwacha said.
“He came on Sunday earlier than his scheduled departure. After that he advised the officers that he was in town and asked if he could visit their office, but they told him to come on Monday around 9am. He went there and they interviewed him and told him to go back home. Is that arrest?”
Hwacha said the following day (Tuesday) he came from his home and was taken to court and when they appeared at the Harare Magistrates Courts they were told to go back home.
“Why then are people saying he was arrested? What’s the hype about him appearing in court than look on the other side that he could be cleared of any allegations?” queried Hwacha.
“There are a lot of things which happened in parastatals which fell under his previous ministry which they wanted to interview him on and also other things which have been said in the media. He could be a State witness, so he was never arrested. As his lawyer, I am waiting to hear that there are no charges against him.”
However, sources told NewsDay that Zacc was pressing two more charges against the minister with the anti-graft commission reportedly searching for more details in relation to the cases.
Charges against Gumbo emanated from a US$2,7 million fuel tender awarded to First Oil Company in 2013 and a US$1 million involving the Zimbabwe Airways deal.
He is also accused of corruptly facilitating the award of a US$333,3 million tender to Indrastemas and Homt Espana of South Africa for air control equipment without following procurement procedures. NewsDay