International review Investigation

Top Zimbabwe ‘Minister’ Facing Corruption Charges Involving Billions of Dollars

Zimbabwe's former Minister of Finance Ignatius Chombo (second right) leaves Harare Magistrate Court. Source: AFP.

This material belongs to: VOA News.

Former Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo, who appeared in court today facing several fraud and corruption charges, told the courts he was abducted by men wearing army uniforms and was detained at an unknown location.

Chombo said he was dumped at his residence on Wednesday but was immediately picked up by police.

He said suspected members of the Zimbabwe Defence Force abducted him on November 14th after they broke into his residence where they smashed the main gate, doors and windows before force-marching him into a vehicle while blindfolded.

He said his so-called abductors accused him of failing to properly run the ruling Zanu PF party and the Ministry of Local Government before he was recently appointed finance minister and corruption.

Chombo claimed that he was taken to an unknown location and then dumped at his house on Wednesday where he was arrested by police who took him to Harare Central Police.

Prosecutor Edmore Nyazama said Chombo is facing charges of fraud involving billions of dollars and corruption and as a result should be remanded in custody.

However, his attorney Lovemore Madhuku said Chombo has been in police custody for a long time and therefore he needs to be released.

Madhuku argued that as per some provisions of the Zimbabwe Constitution, an accused person is supposed to be brought before the courts within 48 hours of his arrest. He said police are violating the constitution by holding him in custody for more than the prescribed period.

But Nyazama argued that Chombo’s arrest is within the required time frame.

At the same time, two of his subordinates of the so-called Generation 40 faction of the ruling party, which wanted then First Lady Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband, have also appeared in court facing charges of insulting General Constantino Guveya Chiwenga.

ZANU PF Youth League members, Kudzayi Chipanga and Innocent Hamandishe, claim that they were beaten up by members of the national army who abducted them from their homes a week ago.

Chipanga made a public apology on television saying he was misled to read a statement in which he said the Zanu PF Youth League will defend President Mugabe until the last man from any person who wanted to manipulate him to embrace Team Lacoste, which was another group led by then ousted Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The latter seized power from Mugabe following an interference by military, which intervened in Zanu PF squabbles and sidelined Mugabe in favour of Mnangagwa.

Zimbabwe’s home affairs minister Ignatious Chombo announcing Friday that every February 21st, the birthday of Mugabe, will now be a public holiday since the 93-year old leader exhibited “self sacrifice, selflessness, patriotism, hard work, principled leadership. Source: VOA News.

Zimbabwean ex-minister charged with corruption

This material belongs to: Radio New Zeland.

Zimbabwe’s former finance minister, who taken into custody by the military after it took power, has appeared in court in Harare on corruption charges.

A lawyer for Ignatius Chombo said the ex-minister had been beaten in custody, although the police have denied this.

Mr Chombo faces corruption charges for alleged offences that date back more than a decade.

He will be detained until Monday when the court will rule on whether he should be bailed.

Separately, the high court has ruled that the military takeover – which saw former President Robert Mugabe placed under house arrest on 14 November – was legal.

“The actions of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to stop the usurping of power by those close to former president Robert Mugabe are constitutional,” the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation quotes the court as saying.

The court also ruled “null and void” the sacking by Mr Mugabe of then Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa earlier this month.

The military takeover was widely seen as a reaction to moves by Mr Mugabe to ensure his wife, Grace, succeeded him, and against the sacking of Mr Mnangagwa, who became president on Friday.

The high court said its ruling would prevent non-elected individuals exercising powers only open to those who have been elected.

But the ruling has raised concerns that the military is exercising undue influence over the judiciary.

Dewa Mavhinga, Southern Africa Director of Human Rights Watch, warned of a “strange, captured judiciary”.

Mr Chombo appeared in court attired in a blue suit and chatting to police guards as he faced charges stemming from his time as a local government minister more than 10 years ago.

His lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku, said Mr Chombo had received hospital treatment for injuries sustained while in military detention.

The court cases capped a tumultuous week in Zimbabwe, which saw Mr Mugabe resign on Tuesday in a letter read out to MPs who were about to start impeaching him.

His resignation was greeted by widespread celebration on the streets of Harare and followed on Friday by the swearing-in as president of Mr Mnangagwa.

At Harare’s 60,000-capacity National Sports Stadium, Mr Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was now “ready and willing for a steady re-engagement with all the nations of the world”.

“Key choices will have to be made to attract foreign direct investment to tackle high-levels of unemployment while transforming our economy,” he said.

He also praised Mr Mugabe, calling him one of the “founding fathers” of our nation and counselled against “vengeful retribution” against those who had been ousted.