Harare Mayor and Councillors Out On Bail

The magistrate, Olivia Mariga, threw away an application for refusal of placement on remand, saying there was reasonable suspicion that an offence was committed. He ordered the Mayor and the councillors to appear in court on May 6.

The Mayor and councillors were arrested following a report by a special committee on land which unearthed a land scandal that involved Local Government and Urban Development Minister, Ignatius Chombo, and controversial businessman, Chiyangwa, as among top government officials that had illegally acquired vast pieces of land in Harare.

The court appearance comes after the Harare City Council made a report to the police to arrest Chiyangwa and Chombo over the land theft allegations.

Chiyangwa, a business tycoon, has gone to the extent of suing both council and The Standard newspaper for a whopping US$900 million saying he had suffered losses to his companies and damages to his reputation because of the council report.

He said the report was accusing him to be a thief.

The State chief law officer, Chris Mutangadura, asked the court to bar the special committee chairperson, Warship Dumba, not to give interviews to the press, now that he had been formally placed on remand.

Magistrate Mariga, granted the order arguing that it would be prejudicial to the State if he continued to give interviews.

“I am yet to receive the docket that was filed by the council but to the police but we will have to analyse it before the trial resumes on May 6,” said Mutangadura.

But the lawyer representing the councillors, Aleck Muchadehama, said the move violated Dumba’s constitutional rights for the freedom to express himself. 

Muchadehama had also argued that the mayor and the councillors were facing spruced up charges made up by Chiyangwa and the police officers to divert attention from the businessman’s involvement in the land scandal.

Speaking to journalists just outside the Rotten Row Magistrates Court, Masunda said that the bail that he had been made to pay showed the gravity of the State Case.

“My lawyer …had offered to pay US$100 as bail but the court saw it fit that we pay US$20 each. This only goes to show the gravity of the case,” said Musanda who was being represented separately by Advocate Zhou.