Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
HARARE Mayor Herbert Gomba, who is facing criminal abuse of office charges, was on Thursday granted $10 000 bail by the Anti-Corruption Court of the High Court, but has been banned from setting foot at Town House and dealing with municipal officials, meaning he will find it almost impossible to continue mayoral duties.
He was appealing against a decision by Harare regional magistrate Mrs Bianca Makwande to deny him bail after she found that there was high risk he would interfere with evidence if released.
Through his lawyer Professor Lovemore Madhuku, Gomba appealed for bail at the higher court. Anti-Corruption Court of the High Court judge Justice Felistus Chitakunye granted the application by Gomba and freed him on $10 000, but banned him from setting foot at Town House and banned him from interfering with State witnesses.
He has to report at Glen Norah Police Station every Friday and surrender his travel documents.
In denying Gomba bail, the regional magistrate ruled that should the State prove that he was the author of a letter that gave green light to development of the land he allegedly awarded to Taringana Housing Scheme, chances of a prison term were high.
Charges against Gomba arose last year, when he allegedly connived with his accomplices, who are yet to be accounted for by police, and altered an approved layout plan belonging to Youth in Business Housing Trust.
In doing so, Gomba and his accomplices, allegedly converted State land into council land and allocated it to Taringana Housing Scheme, with the same plan number that was allocated to Youths in Business Trust.
It is alleged, Gomba, in his capacity as the ceremonial mayor, originated a memorandum dated February 18, 2020 saying that the Plan for Taringana Housing Scheme had been approved and council should survey the land.
The court heard that the letter was misleading and inaccurate since the same plan had been issued and approved by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works to the Youths in Business Housing Scheme.
Plans to proceed with change had been set aside by the Town Clerk, but Gomba disregarded such advice, a court heard.
The State alleges that Gomba acted beyond his powers as a ceremonial mayor.
The Environmental Management Agency inspected the land and noted that 40 percent of it was a wetland and recommended that this section be excluded from permitted development.
But Gomba allegedly went ahead to demarcate the wetland, in violation of the agency recommendations.
His actions were said to have shown favour to Taringana Housing Trust and disfavour to Youths in Business Housing Scheme.