Council offers evidence against Chiyangwa and Chombo

phillip_chiyangwaHARARE - Harare City Council has said it can produce documents incriminating property mogul Phillip Chiyangwa (Pictured) for alleged theft of land and cabinet minister Ignatius Chombo for criminal abuse of office.

The move comes as Chiyangwa begins action against the council and a newspaper for $900m over the charges, which he claims defamed him and cost him millions in lost business and damage to his reputation.

Official papers seen on Monday by The Zimbabwean showed that the council had offered six key pieces of documentary evidence against Chiyangwa and seven more against Chombo.

The evidence against Chiyangwa includes a document that the municipality alleges was used at the Deeds Office by the citys director of urban planning services, Psychology Chiwanga, to fraudulently transfer the five properties belonging to the city council. A council resolution cancelling an earlier agreement to swap land with the tycoon is also being offered as evidence.

The evidence against Chombo, who is minister of local government, includes a letter that he wrote to the council in 2008 demanding that the local authority sell a stand in Helensvale the size of 20 football pitches to his company, Harvest-Net Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd, for the development of cluster houses.

Chiwanga is also implicated in the Chombo deal, as he is accused of having recommended to council that the minister be given the stand in violation of municipal policy, which required such deals to be put out to tender.

Although the council had agreed to sell Chombo the land for Z$23 trillion, Chiwanga is accused of fraudulently altering documents to show the purchase price as Z$2,324, which was not enough to buy a loaf of bread at the time.

It was not clear at the time of going to press if the police had finally agreed to arrest Chiyangwa and Chombo in the light of the available evidence, which legal experts said formed reasonable grounds for suspicion, the only basis required for police to launch investigations on a criminal suspect.

Zimbabwes police and justice services have in the past been accused of selective application of the law to prevent high-ranking officials linked to president Robert Mugabe from facing prosecution. Both Chombo and Chiyangwa are close relatives of the President.

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