INCARCERATED former Cabinet minister and ex-Zanu PF secretary for administration, Ignatius Chombo , has offered to quit politics and go into full-time farming or return to teaching in an effort to regain his freedom.
The former minister made the remarks in his bail statement, through his lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku, while trying to persuade the High Court to grant him bail in an appeal set to be heard today.
“Appellant [Chombo] has been a Member of Parliament and Cabinet minister for the past 20 years,” Madhuku said in the appeal.
“He ceased being a Cabinet minister upon the assumption of office of the President [Emmerson Mnangagwa] on November 24, 2017.
“He ceased being a Member of Parliament on November 28, 2017.
“He is a farmer and may return to his former job as a university lecturer.”
Chombo was previously Higher and Tertiary Education, Local Government, Home Affairs and Finance minister. He was three weeks ago allegedly detained by the military before he was subsequently charged with fraud, criminal abuse of office and corruption.
On Monday, provincial magistrate Elisha Singano denied Chombo bail on the basis that he was a flight risk, was likely to interfere with investigations and could be harmed by the public angry at his corruption charges.
The magistrate also pointed out that the former minister was “likely to abscond as he had access to significant financial resources, which he could use to buy his way out through the country’s border posts”.
But in his appeal, Chombo said Singano had misdirected himself in denying him his right to liberty.
“There was neither evidence nor any other basis from which it could be said that the appellant was likely to abscond,” Madhuku said.
“There was neither evidence nor any other basis from which it could be said that appellant could interfere with witnesses.
“Reference to a public outcry is, in itself, never a compelling reason given that it is the people themselves that entrenched a presumption of innocence in the Constitution. The State did not address any of the bail conditions offered by the appellant, thereby, failing to discharge the onus thrust upon it by law.
“The decision to deny bail on the basis of the above grounds is so outrageous in its defiance of logic or common sense that no reasonable magistrate, applying his or her mind to the facts and conscious of the right to liberty, could ever have reached that conclusion …”
Madhuku is also set to file another bail appeal on behalf of the deposed Zanu PF national youth league leader, Kudzanayi Chipanga, who was also denied bail on the same grounds when he separately appeared before another magistrate, Josephine Sande.
Madhuku had proposed that Chombo be allowed to deposit $2 000 bail, report three times a day on every day of the week, reside at his given address, surrender his passport, surrender title deeds, police be allowed to visit his place of residence at any time and not to visit his government offices until finalisation of the matter.
In his submissions and in reference to Chipanga, Madhuku argued that a democratic society would not criminalise statements issued as it would be against the constitutional right to freedom of expression.