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Zimbabwe Judge Frees Energy Minister in Politically Tinged Corruption Case

  • Thomas Chiripasi

Mangoma was released on US$5,000 bail on the first corruption charge brought against him maintaining that he awarded a $5 million fuel supply tender to a South African company without following proper procedures

Zimbabwe Energy Minister Elton Mangoma was released from remand prison Monday after a High Court judge ruled that a claim by prosecutors that he would interfere with state witnesses was a “bald assertion" not supported by the facts.

Justice Joseph Musakwa said reasons given by prosecutors in opposing bail granted to Mangoma last week were contradictory.

The minister was arrested late last month and charged with abusing his office in awarding contracts to provide fuel during a period of shortages and electricity meters for the state-controlled Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority.

A judge granted Mangoma bail March 30 but prosecutors demanded that a number of conditions be imposed, including his suspension from official duties.

The state, in opposing bail, argued that Mangoma would interfere with state witnesses, some of whom were his subordinates at the Energy Ministry, including permanent secretary Justin Mupamhanga, correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reported.

"It is a trite and well settled principle of our law that a bald assertion unsupported by any facts is not sufficient basis upon which a court will deny bail or impose restrictions as suggested by the state,” High Court Judge Joseph Musakwa ruled.

“Having considered the totality of the applications that have been considered by this court and the apparent contradictions in the present application, I’m of the considered view that the intended appeal enjoys no prospects of success. The application is therefore dismissed," Musakwa declared.

Mangoma was released from prison late Monday into the arms of his mother, Nancy, who was waiting for him with many other well-wishers.

Mangoma was released on US$5,000 bail on the first corruption charge brought against him maintaining that he awarded a $5 million fuel supply tender to a South African company without following proper procedures.

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