Gomba in court on electoral offences, defence says charges ‘absurd’

HARARE – Former Harare mayor Herbert Gomba was brought before a Harare court on Wednesday accused of electoral offences over the registration of voters.

Gomba, who was arrested on Monday, was remanded in custody after magistrate Stanford Mambanje said he would give his bail ruling on Thursday afternoon.

The former mayor faces two counts of making false statements to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), which his defence lawyers strongly dispute.

Defence lawyers say the charges are a conspiracy to disrupt Gomba’s campaign ahead of by-elections on March 26. Gomba will represent the Citizens Coalition for Change in ward 27, a seat he won comfortably in 2018 before his controversial recall by the MDC-T party.

“There’s no case to talk about, it’s just harassment,” lawyer Harrison Nkomo told ZimLive.

On the first of the charges, prosecutors say Gomba registered as a voter at Ruvheneko Primary School in Glen Norah by providing an address where he was not ordinarily resident.

His lawyers say the address is his parents’ house, and insist that Gomba lived there at the time and only moved out in 2018. He moved to another house also in Glen Norah. His polling station did not change.

On the second count, prosecutor Lancelot Mutsokoti said between October and December 31, 2017, another 22 individuals submitted affidavits while registering as voters also listing the same residential address as Gomba. Nine of the registrants share a surname with Gomba.

The National Prosecuting Authority alleges that the 22 were not residents at the stated house consisting of four rooms, including two bedrooms and a combined kitchen, dining room, and lounge.

“The accused person, being the direct beneficiary of the registration of the 22 persons, caused through his relationship with the 22 involved in this case to fraudulently purport that they are residents of Harare municipality ward 27,” the prosecution charges.

The defence says Gomba is not responsible for individuals using an address that is not his to register as voters.

“It’s an absurdity. He did not sign their affidavits, so where’s the connection? If those people committed an offence, let them carry their own crosses,” charged Nkomo.

Nkomo is appearing alongside Garikai Mhishi for the defence.

The two lawyers proposed bail of Z$10,000, which is opposed by the prosecution.

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