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Zimbabwe Energy Minister Arraigned on Public Trust Charges; Politics Cited

  • Thomas Chiripasi

Following the release on bail Friday afternoon of Mazowe Central Member of Parliament Shepherd Mushonga, charged with stealing building stones, a lawyer for the MDC legislator said there is no substance to the charges

An alleged corruption case against Zimbabwean Energy Minister Elton Mangoma was set down Friday for trial on March 28 in Harare magistrate's court as two other top officals of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai were released on bail, including one just arrested earlier in the day.

Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC formation maintains that the increasing number of prosecutions of its legislators amounts to a crackdown by authorities loyal to President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party aiming to cripple the former opposition ahead of elections.

Analysts say ZANU-PF hopes through arrests like Mangoma's to cause the MDC to leave the unity government, triggering the elections Mr. Mugabe has demanded.

Reporter Thomas Chiripasi reported from Harare magistrate's court on the arraignment of Mangoma, who is accused by state prosecutors of misuse of office in connection with the procurement of diesel fuel from a South African energy company.

MDC officials said the charges against Mangoma were brought for political reasons.

In another new case, following the release on bail Friday afternoon of Mazowe Central Member of Parliament Shepherd Mushonga, charged with stealing building stones, a lawyer for the MDC legislator said there is no substance to the charges.

Attorney Earnest Jena said the charges arise from a complaint by a ZANU-PF councilor saying building materials that he and others in the community donated for a clinic were then used by Mushonga in another project to build a school.

Jena told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that Mushonga did nothing wrong.

Elsewhere, Nyanga North legislator Douglas Mwonzora, accused of public violence, was granted bail by the High Court Friday after spending nearly a month behind bars.

Mwonzora and 24 others were ordered to pay US$50 bail apiece and to report to the police once a week while at liberty.

Yet another MDC legislator was arrested in Gokwe, Midlands province, late Thursday, on charges of committing violence, party sources said. They said Gokwe-Kabuyini lawmaker Costin Muguti was being held at the Gokwe police station.

Police meanwhile ordered Executive Director Abel Chikomo of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum to report to Harare Central station with certain documents.

The NGO Forum issued a statement saying police officers came to its offices Thursday demanding Chikomo report to the police Friday as he has “a case to answer.”

VOA was unable to reach Chikomo. Members of his organization said he is out of town and intended to report to the police on Monday.

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