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Zimbabwe High Court Frees Energy Minister Charged With Graft

  • Thomas Chiripasi
  • Ntungamili Nkomo

In his ruling, High Court Judge Samuel Kudya declared that the case against Elton Mangoma was weak, and granted his freedom on $5 000 bail.

A Zimbabwean High Court judge on Tuesday freed Energy Minister Elton Mangoma on bail after turning down a request for his continued detention by the State.

Mangoma, deputy treasurer of the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, was arrested last week and charged with criminal abuse of office in relation to a fuel procurement tender.

In his ruling, High Court Judge Samuel Kudya declared that the case against Mangoma was weak, and granted his freedom on $5 000 bail.

Mangoma was also ordered to report once a week to the police until his case is finalized, and not to interfere with witnesses. He came to court in hand cuffs and prison garb despite a ruling last week that he be allowed personal clothing to cover his disabled leg.

Defence attorney Selby Hwacha accused the Attorney General of not taking action against some officers in the Energy Ministry who allegedly misappropriated $35 million, despite an official request by Mangoma.

His trial is expected to begin March 28. If convicted, Mangoma faces no more than 15 years in prison or a $5 000 fine.

Meanwhile, MDC Member of Parliament for Gokwe-Kabuyuni, Costin Muguti was also granted bail by a Kwekwe magistrate, but remained in custody after the State invoked the notorious Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.

Muguti was arrested last week for allegedly threatening Chief Samuel Samambwa of Zhombe district. In Nyanga district, Manicaland province, five MDC activists facing violence charges were freed after posting bail.

And in Harare, 10 party supporters who were arrested in a dusk office raid Sunday were still in custody on Tuesday. The MDC said the activists were facing "false charges of assaulting an unidentified person."

Political analyst Effie Dlela Ncube told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the continued arrests and detentions of MDC activists are abhorable.

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