The results of painstaking research by The Zimbabwean reveal the details of one man’s journey to eye-watering riches. This is the first in a series of revelations. The Zimbabwean can exclusively reveal the rise of a complete nonentity from material and political obscurity to a position of incredible wealth and influence -through alliances with politicians, fixers and bureaucrats. Our investigations have revealed that Local Government and Rural Development minister, Ignatius Chombo, who owns dozens of houses and luxury cars, has become hugely wealthy during his decades as one of President Robert Mugabes cabinet ministers.
Chombo has flaunted his lavish lifestyle by purchasing dozens of houses and residential stands in almost every town and city in Zimbabwe. He also owns11 luxury cars, 17 tractors, three combine harvesters, and hundreds of other farming implements and assets. This is confirmed by a notarial deed in our possession. There is no way his official salary, even including the generous allowances enjoyed by top officials, over the years could have bought him a fraction of these assets.
Hidden shelf companies
The investigation also revealed that ownership of the housing stands Chombo has accumulated have been concealed through the use of shelf companies. This was facilitated by Attorney General Johannes Tomana, who masterminded the transfer of the properties to some of Chombo’s sons and investment vehicles. The letter from Chombo to Tomana confirming this is available to view on our website at www.thezimbabwean.co.uk
Chombo’s letter also advises Tomana to transfer 100 per cent shareholding of Growfin Investments – his major investment vehicle – to Chombo Family Trust. He also advises the AG to transfer new Allan Grange farm, subject of dispute between Chombo and his first wife Marian, to the trust. The letter further states: “Bus to be registered in the company of Enock Chombo, Nimrod Chombo and Ignatius Chombo Jnr.” The contents of other documents in our possession bear witness to Chombo’s incredible property empire: stands in Epworth, Chirundu, Kariba, Ruwa, Chinhoyi, Mutare, Chegutu, Binga, Victoria Falls, Zvimba, Chitungwiza, Beitbridge, Harare and Bulawayo.
Most of these stands are commercial, hidden under investment vehicles created by the minister. More information on the particulars of the stands owned by Chombo is available on our website.
Chombo has also made headlines for his involvement in the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Expressway project, which was awarded to a Ukrainian investment company without going to tender. The City of Harare has begun an investigation into the project.
Investigations by The Financial Gazette established recently that a caretaker council the Harare Commission unelected and hand-picked by Chombo, approved the sordid deal. In terms of the Urban Councils Act, the Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development is the ultimate authority who must approve council contract projects.
Michael Mahachi, an old associate of Chombo, wholly owns Classique Project Management – a consultancy appointed by the commission, handpicked by the same minister to manage the project.
As part of its resolutions adopted during its last full-council meeting held on August 7, 2009, the Harare council ordered Mahachi to produce, in chronological order, a full report of the procedures that were followed to award the contract for the design, construction and dualisation of Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Expressway to Augur Investments.
The son of a villager from Zvimba who was sent to the US on a scholarship in the early 80s, Chombo returned home in 1988, with his first wife Marian to take up a job as a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.
Chombo would have remained an ordinary lecturer had it not been for his networking abilities and active participation in Zanu (PF) activities in Mugabes home area. He became Mashonaland West governor in 1999. He became local government minister a year later and began to accumulate wealth and women.
He and his first wife renewed their vows on August 25, 2004, entering a post-nuptial agreement. The minister married his second wife, Nannette Silukhuni, a former TV journalist, in contemptuous violation of his vows and the law. He then married Joey Hawadi and later Bessie Mugabe, former wife of Paul Mugabe. Chombo has given his latest wife a house along Golden Stairs Road in Harare..
The Zimbabwean can report that Chombo’s first wife, Miriam, now wants 50 per cent of rentals, to which her post-nuptial contract entitles her. Details of a letter written by Miriam, dated August 14, 2009 to Mr Marimambeva of estate agency Heaven on Earth, are available on our website.
The marital dispute has been brought to the attention of Fist Lady Grace Mugabe, but she has not acted on it. Known as Mugabes “blue-eyed boy”, Chombo was in March 2008 nominated as Zanu (PF)’s candidate for Zvimba North – Mugabe’s rural home.
Dont miss Part 2 as we continue to unravel the convoluted mystery surrounding Chombo’s wealth.