Purge of Mugabe's allies gets underway

27 November 2017 - 08:37 By Reuters
Former Zimbabwe finance minister Ignatius Chombo. File photo.
Former Zimbabwe finance minister Ignatius Chombo. File photo.
Image: Sunday Times

Former Zimbabwe finance minister Ignatius Chombo has been charged with corruption, including trying to defraud the central bank in 2004.

The court appearance on Saturday was the first time Chombo had been seen in public since being detained after the military seized power in "Operation Restore Legacy'', which it said was meant to remove the "criminals" around Robert Mugabe.

Chombo was among those detained by the military before Mugabe resigned as president.

A Mugabe ally, Chombo, who was promoted to finance minister in October, told the court that he was kept blindfolded for nine days after being arrested at his home on November 15.

His lawyer said he was beaten in detention, although Chombo made no mention of that and had no injuries visible as he stood before magistrates in Harare.

Several members of a group allied to Mugabe and his wife Grace were detained and expelled from the ruling party, including Chombo, the ousted head of the influential Zanu-PF youth league Kudzanai Chipanga and his commissar Innocent Hamandishe.

The state prosecutor said Chombo was charged with three counts of corruption, including attempting to defraud the Zimbabwean central bank in 2004, when he was local government minister.

He was not asked to plead.

The court ordered Chombo be detained until Monday when his bail application will be heard.

The former university lecturer was interior minister before his October promotion.

In the same court, Chipanga faced charges of making statements aimed at undermining public confidence in the defence forces and was detained until Monday for his bail application.

Hamandishe faces six counts of kidnapping and one of publishing falsehoods and was detained in custody until December 8.

In his inauguration speech, Mnangagwa laid out a grand vision to revitalise Zimbabwe's ravaged economy and vowed to rule on behalf of all the country's citizens.

At the weekend the army returned to barracks outside Harare after being stationed outside government building since the take over.