Mangoma appears in court with leg irons

elton_mangoma_arrestedHARARE - Minister of Energy and Power Development Elton Mangoma (pictured), has appeared in court wearing handcuffs and leg irons.

Two prison officers led a shackled and limping Mangoma into court wearing chains and a prison uniform.

The deputy treasurer-general of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party, stood silently in the dock in the Harare Court where charges of abuse of public office were read out to him. The judge accepted a request from Mangoma’s defence lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa for him to stand trial without the chains.

The MDC minister then stood trial without handcuffs and leg irons and he was cheered by MDC supporters in the public gallery

Justice Chinembiri Bhunu is presiding over the high-profile trial. The State called its first witness, Justin Mupamhanga, the permanent secretary in the Energy ministry.

Mangoma appeared in court Monday over a case he was arrested on two weeks ago. He was granted US$5 000 bail at the High Court last week Tuesday. He was re-arrested last Friday on a further charge of unilaterally cancelling a tender for electricity metres and allegedly corruptly awarding it to a company that used to employ him as general manager.

He has been indicted to 18 July for trial on the fresh charge.

Mangoma is facing allegations of corruption arising from a fuel deal with a South African company without going to tender. He is denying the charges.

The minister will be back at the High Court tomorrow for his bail hearing on fresh charges that he abused public office by irregularly awarding a multi-million tender to purchase electricity meters by the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), a subsidiary of Zesa.

Last week, Mtetwa lashed out at the police and prosecutors for preferring to prosecute the minister in installments.

We believe that the latest arrest is meant to deliberately subvert the High Court order with regards to bail and that the arrest is clearly politically motivated to ensure that the accused person is unavailable for political processes that are going on in Parliament, said Mtetwa in reference to the pending elections for the Speakership in the House of Assembly that has been set down for Tuesday.

Mangoma is the MP for Makoni North in the House of Assembly. And the MDC-N announced at a press conference Monday that they will vote for MDC Speaker Lovemore Moyo, dealing a blow to Zanu PF’s spirited campaign to surreptitiously install Simon Khaya-Moyo as the new Speaker.

The spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change, Nelson Chamisa, claimed that Mangoma was being kept in terrible and deplorable conditions at the remand custody centre, held in handcuffs, leg irons and prison clothes.

The conditions are inhumane, just like the conditions under which the colonial regime kept nationalist leaders and democratic activists, he said.

Zimbabwe’s prison conditions have been widely described as dreadful by former prisoners and human- rights activists. A report by a parliamentary portfolio committee that toured local prisons describes prison conditions as appalling and prisoners complained of severe beatings by prison guards, and were also overcrowded.

A prison spokeswoman said “Mr Mangoma is being kept like all other remand prisoners.” But MDC activists who saw him at the courts today expressed dismay at the conditions under which he was brought to court.

“He was shivering and cold. We are fearful what they will do to him in remand prison. They are keeping him where (former MDC spokesman) Learnmore Jongwe died,” said an MDC activist.

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