Minister Timba arrested for calling Mugabe 'liar' row

    0
    4

    Jameson Timba, is the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office.

    \r\n

    A senior aide to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Timba was held over a newspaper report in which he appeared to suggest President Robert Mugabe lied over the outcome of a SADC summit held in South Africa a fortnight ago.

    \r\n

    Hard-liners in Mugabe’s party led by Jonathan Moyo accused Jameson Timba of insulting Mugabe, an offense under sweeping security laws, when he said Mugabe lied over the outcome of a recent regional summit on Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis.

    \r\n

    Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said he had no information on possible charges.

    \r\n

    Timba, minister of state in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s office, was being held late Friday at the main Harare police station, said party spokesman Nelson Chamisa.

    \r\n

    “The MDC finds it strange that the Minister can be arrested on the basis of a newspaper report. Equally, we find it a little suspicious to choose Friday as the day to effect arrest,” the party said in a statement.

    \r\n

    Criminal suspects arrested on Friday are usually held over the weekend until the courts open on Monday.

    \r\n

    A report in South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper, which is distributed in Zimbabwe, said Timba had “taken an unprecedented step to expose President Robert Mugabe and senior Zanu PF ministers as ‘liars’”.

    \r\n

    In the article, published under the headline ‘Mugabe a liar’, the newspaper reported: “The Minister of State in Tsvangirai’s office, who attended the closed session of the Sandton summit on Zimbabwe, said Mugabe’s version of events was untrue.

    \r\n

    “Although the Sunday Times already had most of the details, Timba confirmed the information which exposed Mugabe and his ministers as ‘liars’.”

    \r\n

    Nowhere in the report, however, is Timba quoted verbatim saying Mugabe was a “liar”. The word appears to have been used by the reporter, Zoli Mangena, as his interpretation of the import of Timba’s arguments.

    \r\n

    The Sunday Times story relied almost entirely on an opinion article published on the same day, bearing Timba’s byline, in the Standard newspaper. In the article, Timba does not mention Mugabe even once – although the quotes used in the Sunday Times story originate from the same article.

    \r\n

    The SADC summit communiqué of June 12 sparked a furious row between President Mugabe’s Zanu PF party and the rival MDC factions, specifically over the fate of another communiqué from an earlier mini-summit on Zimbabwe held in Zambia.

    \r\n

    The full SADC summit of heads of state meeting in South Africa said they had “noted” the resolutions of the troika organ on defence, politics and security, widely reported as damning on Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.

    \r\n

    The row was over the interpretation of the word “noted”, with Tsvangirai insisting that its meaning was the same as “endorsed”, while Zanu PF said the use of “noted” was no more than an acknowledgement that the mini-summit had met and made resolutions.

    \r\n

    Timba becomes the third MDC minister to be arrested since President Robert Mugabe formed a coalition government with rivals in February 2009. His ministerial colleague Elton Mangoma faces corruption charges while Moses Mzila Ndlovu, from the MDC led by Welshman Ncube, is charged with undermining police authority.