Two former Zimbabwean cabinet ministers who served under ex-president Robert Mugabe have been charged with corruption, their lawyers said on Saturday, the latest sign of a crackdown on officials loyal to Mugabe.
Mugabe, 93, stood down in November after 37 years in power following a de facto military coup, making way for his former deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa to take over.
When the military seized power they arrested key allies of Mugabe and his wife, Grace, saying the de facto coup was done to eliminate criminals around the president.
We are going to make an application for an exception to the charge because the charges that my client is facing are ridiculous
Former foreign minister Walter Mzembi and ex-energy minister Samuel Undenge were charged on Friday with “criminal abuse of office”, their lawyers said. They both deny wrongdoing.
Undenge is accused of issuing a $12,650 contract without due tender to a company that did no work, according to a charge sheet seen by Reuters.
Mzembi and Undenge were both granted bail on Saturday, asked to surrender their passports and remanded until Jan. 22 when their cases will be heard.
“We are going to make an application for an exception to the charge because the charges that my client is facing are ridiculous,” Job Sikhala, Mzembi’s lawyer, told reporters outside the court.
Undenge’s lawyer Alex Muchadehama described the case against his client as a “circus”.
Former finance minister Ignatius Chombo is on bail after being charged in November over accusations he tried to defraud the central bank over a decade ago. Chombo denies wrongdoing.
Local media are also reporting the former presidnt’s sons are being investing for dealing in illicit gold trading while other officials who served in Mugabe’s regime have been urged to voluntarily return funds and property looted government or risk being prosecuted.
Mnangagwa who became president after the toppling of Mugabe in November last year has pledged wide sweeping reforms including fighting rampant corruption and disregard of the rule of law.