Former Minister of Finance, Ignatius Chombo has said that he is willing to go into full-time farming or to return to teaching as he tried to regain his freedom. Chombo revealed this to the High Court in his bail statement, through his lawyer Lovemore Madhuku. His appeal will be heard at the High Court today, after he was denied bail by Harare Magistrate Elisha Singano citing concerns that Chombo may abscond. The former minister is facing charges of fraud, criminal abuse of office and contravening the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Said Madhuku in the appeal:
Appellant [Chombo] has been a Member of Parliament and Cabinet minister for the past 20 years.
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 is arguing that Singano misdirected himself in denying him bail as there is no evidence that he may abscond:
There was neither evidence nor any other basis from which it could be said that the appellant was likely to abscond.
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.