By Patrick Chitumba /Freedom Mupanedemo
ZANU-PF Gokwe Sesame MP Gordon Chanda (41) and a local councillor have been arrested for allegedly extorting money from villagers and stealing maize meant for people under the Government’s food relief programme.
Police in Gokwe said the MP handed himself over at Gokwe Central Police Station yesterday morning while Ward 13 Councillor, Georgina Chirongoma (34) was arrested on Monday night.
The duo appeared before Gokwe magistrate Mr Shortgame Musaiwona facing charges of criminal abuse of office. They were remanded out of custody to February 11 on $1 000 bail each.
Chirongoma had relaxed bail conditions while the MP was asked to surrender his passport to the police. He was also asked to report twice a week on Monday and Friday at Gokwe Police Station and reside at his number 615 Nyaradza Gokwe house.
Prosecutor, Mr Liberty Chimwaradze said some time in December last year, the two took advantage of their positions and organised a meeting with village heads in Chirongoma’s ward.
They asked them to get people in the ward to contribute $5 each saying the money was for the completion of Gande clinic which was under construction in the ward. There are about 13 000 villagers in the ward.
Mr Chimwaradze said the village heads went out and organised their subjects and collected $7 091 which was then handed over to the two.
The court heard that it was subsequently discovered that the construction of the clinic was being funded by Gokwe South Rural District Council using devolution funds and the two had allegedly connived and diverted the villagers’ money into their own use.
In the second count, Mr Chimwaradze said on December 16 last year, Chirongoma went to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) Gokwe depot and collected 3 200 bags of maize which were meant to benefit villagers under Government’s food relief programme.
The court heard that Chirongoma under-declared the number of bags which were supposed to be dropped at each distribution centre in her ward.
Investigations which were conducted by the police showed that from the total number of bags that Chirongoma collected from GMB, she underdeclared them by 120 bags of 50 kg maize which were supposed to be shared by the villagers.
Police recovered some of the maize at Chirongoma’s house.
Mr Musaiwona said the matter involving the food aid could not proceed since police had only managed to complete investigation into one count involving 120 by 50 bags of maize yet there are allegations of more counts.
“It is said there are more counts to be investigated. Only one case of a haulage truck which had 120 bags said to have been abused was completed and more investigations need to be completed. So this matter will only be heard when the investigations are complete,” said the magistrate. The Chronicle