Mangoma in court again

mangoma_arriving_courtHARARE - Energy and Power Development minister Elton Mangoma (Pictured) was remanded in custody until July 18 by a Harare magistrates court on Friday on an alleged corruption charge.

Mangoma, appearing before the Rotten Row Magistrates Court following his arrest in a dawn raid at his home Friday, was told he faced allegations of corruption related to the cancellation of a tender floated for the supply of ZESA meters. Mangoma says he cancelled the tender because he wanted to engage a company which could supply “smart meters.”

The judge refused bail for the minister, who is also MDC-T deputy treasurer-general, despite an offer by his defence lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa to put up bail for him.

It is the second arrest of the minister in as many weeks. He was freed from remand prison last week Tuesday on charges of fraud centering on allegations that he bypassed tender procedures in the purchase of fuel from a South African company. He summarily appeared in court Friday and was indicted for trial at the High Court to July 18. He has been remanded in custody.

Meanwhile, the Home Affairs minister Theresa Makone says she is in hiding after receiving credible reports that she also faces arrest. Police were also reportedly hunting for the former Speaker Lovemore Moyo, who they allegedly want arrested for contempt of court after criticising a Supreme Court ruling that removed him from office. MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said it was “part of an onsluaght on MDC MPs ahead of possible election for Speaker on Tuesday.” It capped a major about-face for the GNU, which for weeks had teetered on the verge of collapse. Any fresh arrests risk collapsing the GNU.

The MDC has called an emergency press conference to protest the arrests, with the MDC reiterating that it was ready for “divorce.” and that the marriage had irretrievably broken down. The police have declared an unofficial state of emergency, literally banning MDC activities.

The hardening of Zanu PF’s stance is a precursor for the collapse of the GNU, observers say. The crackdown by Zanu PF put a spotlight on what appeared to be the MDC’s increasingly limited power and influence in the GNU. Observers say the arrests showed that hardliners in Zanu PF aimed to widen attempts at stifling the MDC.

The crackdown on the mostly MDC-T led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai also points to a sharp turn in a political standoff within Zimbabwe’s ruling coalition where hard-liners have appeared to gain the upper hand. Zanu PF is pulling out all the stops to win the Speaker post in the hung Parliament, and the arrests are believed to be aimed at slashing the MDC-T’s slim majority. Friday’s events showed the extent of the ascendancy of the hard-line faction.

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