HARARE, Oct 10 – Zimbabwe’s Energy Minister Elton Mangoma was on Wednesday briefly arrested for allegedly undermining veteran President Robert Mugabe in a speech at a rally, a party spokesman said.
The spokesman for his party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Douglas Mwonzora told AFP: “Minister Mangoma has been released after he was arrested this afternoon.”
“His release came after a lot of pressure from the party and the diplomatic community,” said Mwonzora.
He added that Mangoma, who is also deputy treasurer of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC, was released without being charged.
According to Mangoma’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, the minister was taken to Bindura, a mining town around 90 kilometres (50 miles) north of Harare.
“The police are alleging that he said something at a rally that undermines the authority of the president. We don’t have any further details,” said Mtetwa.
Tsvangirai and Mugabe formed a power-sharing government in 2009 to avoid a tip into conflict in the aftermath of a bloody presidential run-off election which Tsvangirai boycotted, citing the killing of around 300 supporters.
Relations between the two remain tense with counter-accusations of violence.
At least 30 supporters of Tsvangirai’s party including youth leader Solomon Madzore have been in detention for over a year facing charges of killing a police officer who was in a team that came to block a rally.
In 2011 Mangoma was arrested and detained on charges of abuse of office in the awarding of tenders for the supply of diesel and pre-paid electricity metres. He denies the charges.
Arrests for slandering Zimbabwe’s long-time president and breaching the strict public order law are common.
Usually those found guilty receive light jail sentences, fines or are ordered to do community service.