Mzembi, Undenge granted bail by Magistrate

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Walter Mzembi is escorted by a detective during his appearance at the Harare Magistrates Court in Harare, Zimbabwe, January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

HARARE – Two former ministers in Zimbabwe who are facing charges of criminal abuse of office have been granted bail by a magistrate.

Former Energy Minister Samuel Undenge and former Foreign Affairs Minister Walter Mzembi, who were arrested on Friday, were granted $300 and $400 bail respectively by Magistrate Elisha Singano in the capital, Harare. Singano ordered them to report to police once weekly and not to interfere with investigations.

 Mzembi is accused of donating television sets worth $2 million to churches; the government had bought them to promote the soccer World Cup in 2010.

Undenge is accused of abusing his office by directing Zimbabwe Power Co. to give a company called Fruitful Communications a contract to carry out all its external public relations projects in 2016 without going to tender.

Undenge and Mzembi were seen to be linked to the so-called Generation-40 faction of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front loyal to Grace Mugabe, the 52-year-old wife of former president Robert Mugabe, who was deposed in a near-bloodless coup in the pre-dawn hours of Nov. 15. Mugabe resigned a week later after 37 years in power.

Some members of the faction have since fled the country, a government official familiar with the situation said in November. Among them are Saviour Kasukuwere, who led a black-empowerment ministry when about $4 billion in funds for initiatives to support black citizens disappeared, and Jonathan Moyo, who was information minister and the author of some of Zimbabwe’s most oppressive laws, the official said. – Bloomberg