For close to a decade, Chombo was effectively the de-facto mayor of Harare and used the city as a looting platform for the obscene wealth Zanu (PF) and himself, personally, fraudulently pillaged from the people. In December 2009, the MDC council set up a special land investigations committee to examine what happened in the city during the previous decade of Chombos inspired hooliganism. The committee unearthed a sordid tale and exposed the horror of corruption and asset-stripping Harare experienced in a decade.
For the avoidance of doubt over the MDCs concern and sincerity; and apart from what is already in the public domain about Chombos activities as a public officer and a politician, Zimbabweans must consider the following additional story.
Glen Lorne property
a) In Harares plush northern suburb of Glen Lorne lies a piece of land technically known as Subdivision K of Nthaba which used to belong to the city council. Chombo alleges that he was allocated the same piece of land in 1995 by the then Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development. But there was no ministry with such a name at the time although the date stamp on Chombos lease agreement says so. The ministry which existed was that of Local Government and Housing.?
b) This piece of land was donated to the city by a well wisher, Walter Serocold Pell Edmonds, in 1954 and transferred on October 8, 1973 to the City of Harare on condition that it can only be used as a public space. Title Deed No. 3662/1954 was specifically endorsed to effect the council ownership. For years, the piece of land remained that state.?
c) When Chombo went into full time politics, he claims to have signed a lease agreement with this non-existent government ministry on January 2, 1997 and agreed to pay Z$6 301 as rentals per year. A further conflicting point here is that Chombo alleges to have bought the same piece of land on January 1, 1997. How this was possible on New Years Day beggars belief??
d) Chombo tried to sell the land to a Mr Alois Ndaziva Chimeri (63-556768T26) who was then residing at 69 Steven Drive, Msasa, Harare, for Z$250 million on September 15, 2003. But this could not happen as Chombo was not the registered owner of the property.?
e) Records show that over the years, Chombo tried to transfer the land into his name but failed. Correspondence, dating back to 25 June 2004, between the ministry (through the then permanent secretary Mr Simon Pazvakawambwa), Harare City Council and lawyers Honey and Blackenberg show clearly the difficulties Chombo encountered in wrestling the property from the city council. Among the lawyers concerns were issues of conflict of interest as Chombo, now as the minister, was literally intending to change the land use for a personal advantage. Further, the lawyers wanted a Capital Gains Clearance Certificate, Title Deeds and an Agreement of Sale documents Chombo did not appear to have.?
f) Pazvakawambwa, in a letter to the City Valuer and Estates Manager, a Mr Francisco, dated 25 June 2004 requested that the piece of land be transferred to Chombo on the basis that the stand had been allocated to him in 1995. The Town Clerk responded to Mr Pazvakawambwas letter on 21 September 2004 advising her that Chombos application had been forwarded to the Director of Works, P.C. Chiwanga for onward transmission to the ministry for a change of use in terms of Section 49 of the Regional Town and Country Planning Act (1996).?
g) On 19 November 2004, Chiwanga informed the city valuer in writing that he had no objection to the land being transferred to Chombo. Because of a stream that runs through the property, additional legal work was needed with regards the water rights at the piece of land. Chiwanga advised that this was now unnecessary because the new Water Act nullified all water rights which had been an obstacle in the transfer of the land to Chombo.?
h) On 7 January 2005, the Town Clerk then wrote to Honey and Blackenberg to proceed with the transfer, further informing the law firm that all water rights have been nullified by Zinwa.?
i) On April 11, 2005, the lawyers requested the necessary documents and details for an effective transfer, among them, the original Agreement of Sale to Minister Chombo. Nothing happened for a whole month until Mr Pazvakawambwa wrote another letter to the City Valuer enquiring about the position regarding the transfer. On June 7, 2005, the Town Clerk responded to Mr Pazvakawambwas letter requesting for Chombos details as they were needed by the lawyers. Ten days later, the lawyers reminded the City Valuer that they were still waiting for Chombos details as per their 11 April 2005 letter.?
j) On the 21 July 2005, the Town Clerk advised Mr Pazvakawambwa that the state can go ahead and transfer the property to Chombo. He advised Honey and Blackenberg to close their file on the matter as it was now being dealt with directly by the state. Somehow, something did not seem right as shown by the subsequent turn of events.?
k) On 19 September 2005 Mr Pazvakawambwa wrote another letter to the City Valuer giving the available transfer details of Chombo. On the 11th of November 2005, the Town Clerk was back at Honey and Bleckenberg with the Chombos details and requesting them to effect a transfer. The acting Director of Housing Services, James Chiyangwa, availed the lawyers with the title deeds to conform with their demands for documentation. This holding deed gave ownership to the City of Harare.?
l) It appears this was not enough. The lawyers, on 10 February 2006, advised the City Valuer that they needed more details and reminded him of their letter on the 11th of April 2005. Five days later, the lawyers in another letter complained about the non-delivery of the Agreement of Sale and the need for a change of land use. In particular, they raised the issue of conflict of interests on the part of Chombo as he was both the beneficiary and the authority.?
m) To cut a long story short, as it reads like high-grade fiction, the council lawyers in another letter on June 6, 2006 kept on highlighting the conflict of interest issue with the City Valuer. There was a lot inter-departmental activities and correspondence in the council as officials frantically tried to regularise the transfer of this piece of land to Chombo.?
n) By December 2006, L. Chimba, writing on behalf of the permanent secretary, informed Town House of a suggestion of a land swap with another piece of land in an unnamed low density suburb of Harare. Further exchanges took place until on 13th of June 2008 when L. Chimba informed the Town Clerk that the property must be transferred from Chombo to Chimeri as a way of handling the conflict of interest issue.?
o) Chiwanga then advised Honey and Blackenberg on 25 June 2008 that Chombo has since disposed of the land, which would make it easier for him to authorise the change of land use in capacity as the Minister administering the Act. Here came in another obstacle, and all this was happening without the knowledge of the 29 March 2008 MDC council.?
p) On 24 November 2008, the lawyers insisted on the fulfilment of the demands of the letter dated 11 April 2005; requested an agreement of sale for the purposes of Capital Gains by Zimra. They also requested the consent of the City of Harare.?
q) In December, Chiwanga gave the lawyers an Agreement of Sale between Chombo and Chimeri. In February 2009, the lawyers demanded proof of payment and advised that Chombo risked a heavy penalty from Zimra since he claimed to have sold the land in 2005 and did not pay capital gains tax within a month as required by law.?
r) On 28 October 2009, Chombo obtained a capital gains tax clearance certificate, citing the date acquired by transferee as the 5 September 2003 between Chombo and Chimeri and done by one Theresa Chenjerai and Elias Foto, all said to be employees of Zimra.
s) Honey & Blackenberg, in a letter dated 3 November 2009, sought advice from the citys rates department to determine Chombos liability. It nearly took another year before the sale could be effected because of the opaqueness of the deal.?
t) On 26 October 2010, Chiwanga the man implicated in all of Chombos fraudulent land deals from previous investigations advised the city treasurer that Sub-division K of Ntaba, Glen Lorne, had had its use changed from a designated public space to a residential property. Not surprisingly, this letter is dated 4 September 1996.
In conclusion, the MDC and hundreds of workers in the City of Harare and in the Inclusive Government are aware of Chombos activities since Mugabe brought him into his Cabinet from a lecture room at the University of Zimbabwe in 1990s. Like the MDC, they are baffled as to why he remains in public office. First published by the Real Change Times
The Real Change Times is the official mouthpiece of the MDC-T party.Post published in: Opinions