Zimbabwe court dismisses Tsvangirai ally graft case


Zimbabwe’s High Court threw out corruption charges against a minister from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party, saying state prosecutors had failed to prove he had a case to answer.

Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma was arrested in March on graft charges over a fuel import deal.

Mangoma’s lawyer had asked the court to dismiss the case after state prosecutors said they wanted Mangoma to take the stand and answer questions during his trial, Reuters reports.

High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu said the state’s own witnesses had exonerated Mangoma and that the minister had acted in the interests of Zimbabwe to ensure continued fuel supplies.
“The state has failed to establish a prima facie case, the court has no option but to discharge the accused at the close of the state case. The accused is therefore found not guilty,” Bhunu said.

Tsvangirai’s MDC has charged that its senior officials have been arrested as part of political persecution by President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party.

Another High Court Judge on Sunday freed Jameson Timba, an MDC official and Minister of State in Tsvangirai’s office, saying police had violated his rights.

Critics say Mugabe, 87 and in power since Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980, has used brutal policing and vote rigging to keep his grip on power despite a deep economic crisis.

Mugabe denies the charges, and accuses Western media of waging a hate campaign against him over his seizures of white-owned farms for redistribution to black Zimbabweans.

Mugabe is pressing for fresh elections this year, which analysts say will favour his ZANU-PF party if no major political reforms are put in place, including a new constitution and improved voter registration.