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Zimbabwe Charges Mugabe Loyalists With Corruption

Job Sikhala, the lawyer for former foreign affairs minister Walter Mzembi, talks to reporters after court proceedings where he said charges against his client were "really ridiculous," in Harare, Zimbabwe, Jan 6, 2018. (S. Mhofu/VOA)

Two former Zimbabwean cabinet ministers, who were loyal to ousted president Robert Mugabe, appeared in court Saturday on corruption charges.

Their lawyers say the charges are pure victimization targeting those who were against President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced Mugabe.

Former foreign affairs minister Walter Mzembi and former energy minister Samuel Undenge were arrested Friday and appeared in court Saturday where they were released on bail.

Job Sikhala, the lawyer for Mzembi, who spoke to reporters after court proceedings, dismissed the charges laid against Mzembi.

“The charges that my client is facing are really ridiculous charges. These are charges whereby they are saying he donated to churches some television sets those that were used during the World Cup period. They are saying there were supposed to have rotten at the ministry. Secondly, in terms of the charge, the donation should have been done inconsistency of his roles and duties. But at that material time I understand that my client innovated a new concept of religious tourism the one that he was trying to promote around our local prophets to which inconsistency of his duties cannot be found such duties so we are waiting on the 22nd [of January] when we are going to make an application for a discharge,” Sikhala said.

The duo joins former finance minister Ignatius Chombo and former mines minister Walter Chidhakwa - and several other officials - who are out on bail on corruption related charges.

Some of their lawyers told VOA last month that their “crime” was supporting former first lady Grace Mugabe to take over from her husband, who gave in to military pressure and resigned last November.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa replaced the 93-year-old. Mugabe had fired Mnangagwa as the country’s vice president, accusing him of dishonesty and disloyalty.

On Saturday, the minister of home affairs, Obert Mpofu, said the arrests had nothing to do with politics.

“That is an operational issue. I cannot comment on that.”

That‘s all Mpofu – under whose ministry Zimbabwe police fall - said before hanging up his phone.

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