By Desmond Chingarande
The case of former Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo has collapsed after the State indicated that the critical policy document that forms the basis of his criminal abuse of office charge went missing during the November 2017 military coup which toppled the late former President Robert Mugabe.
Chombo was charged with criminal abuse of office after facilitating the sale of a government house in Mutare to ex-Zanu PF legislator for Mutare, Fred Kanzama.
He was, however, removed from remand by regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya after he had given the State the last chance to bring the document.
But prosecutor George Manokore told the magistrate yesterday that he could not secure the crucial document requested by Chombo since there was no handover takeover in the ministry.
“Your worship, we could not secure the policy document. The investigation officer had approached the ministry in question and they requested some time saying they could not locate the policy document since that ministry was separated into two ministries,” Manokore said.
“The permanent secretary indicated that there was no handover takeover of the ministry, so some documents might not be located easily. We are not sure if we will get the document and as the National Prosecution Authority, we do not have that document.”
Manokore then asked for a long remand of a month to April 17 to enable them to approach the ministry directly, but Chombo’s lawyer Lovemore Madhuku objected to the postponement, saying the court had given the State enough time to search for the document and his client must be removed from remand.
“The fact that the State cannot find the document, which is the centre of the charge, means the accused persons should not have been brought to court in the first place. The policy document has not been there to enable the accused person to plead and prepare his defence outline. All we are seeking is to be removed from remand,” Madhuku said.
Mujaya declined further remand.
Allegations are that sometime in 2000, Joyce Munamati, who was acting provincial registrar for Manicaland, and Kanzama were involved in a relationship, which resulted in the two having a son, but they were not staying together.
During the same period, Munamati is said to have then occupied a government house, which was reserved for provincial registrars for Manicaland province.
On March 1, 2000, Munamati allegedly signed a lease agreement which was entered into between her and Chombo’s ministry at Mutare Provincial Public Works for the occupation of the said house.
The State avers that sometime in 2007, Munamati, being a sitting tenant and a government employee, submitted an application to then acting provincial public works officer to purchase the house and the application was forwarded to the Local Government secretary with no objection to the request.
Chombo allegedly gave verbal instructions that the house be sold to Kanzama. NewsDay