Justice Bhunu acquitted Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma, who serves as the deputy treasurer-general for Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party at the close of the state case.
“The State has failed at the close of the state case to establish prima facie case against the accused person. The accused person is found not guilty and is discharged at the close of the state case. The accused is therefore found not guilty,” said Justice Bhunu, who delivered his ruling in a packed court.
The ruling came after Mangoma’s lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa and Selby Hwacha applied for discharge at the close of the state case.
During the trial the state lined up six witnesses to testify against the Energy and Power Development Minister including his permanent secretary Justin Mupamhanga.
An elated Mangoma told journalists outside the High Court that his prosecution was a form of persecution.
“I have always known that this was persecution. What I did was in the best interests of the country,” said Mangoma.
Charges against Mangoma arose after he was accused of purchasing 5 million litres from South African company, Noah Petroleum without following tender procedures.
“During the period in question, there were acute shortages of fuel in the country,” Mangoma said.
The MDC has been issuing statements saying their senior official is being persecuted by hardliners in Zanu (PF) and in the institutions of State who are loyal to President Robert Mugabe.
The party, which is in a coalition government with Zanu (PF), has complained that the Zanu (PF) has the control of the police and the prosecution department making it easy to arrest and lay charges on their party officials.
A minister of State in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Jameson Timba was arrested on Friday for two and half days with no charges. Scores of other MDC supporters are in custody facing murder charges of a police inspector killed in the suburb of Glenview. The MDC said the charges are all trumped up.