Minister released on bail after controversial arrest

Harare – Zimbabwe's energy minister, a close ally of premier Morgan Tsvangirai, was released on bail Monday after a high court judge dismissed attempts by state prosecutors to keep him in jail before he goes on trial on corruption charges.

Elton Mangoma is facing what Tsvangirai describes as a ‘malicious prosecution’ by the police and state lawyers, which are controlled by President Robert Mugabe’s arm of the country’s coalition government.

Mangoma, who was first arrested on March 15, is accused of violating state rules in connection with a multi-million dollar procurement to relieve a national fuel shortage.

He was granted bail but arrested again on March 25, this time for allegedly fixing tenders for electricity meters for the state power utility.

A high court judge had ordered him released on bail the first time, but the state invoked controversial legislation allowing suspects to be detained while it appeals bail decisions.

High court judge Joseph Musakwa on Monday dismissed the state’s right to appeal and ordered Mangoma’s immediate release, said lawyer Selby Hwacha.

Mangoma also acts as a top negotiator on behalf of Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change during talks with Mugabe’s ZANU(PF) party.

A meeting between party negotiators took place without him Monday.