Politics

Chamisa claims persecution as Harare Mayor Mafume arrested

THE recently elected Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume was arrested yesterday for alleged corruption, his lawyer said Thursday, as the top opposition figure’s MDC Alliance party slammed the case as politically motivated.

Jacob Mafume — a prominent member of the main opposition MDC Alliance — is accused of corruptly parcelling out residential plots of land, including to his sister, when he was a city councillor in 2010.

He was arrested late Wednesday and is set to remain in custody until a first court appearance expected on Friday, Mafume’s lawyer Tonderai Bhatasara said.

Mafume “is facing criminal abuse of office charges relating to allocation of stands,” Bhatasara said.

“The police are yet to establish some facts and issues relating to the matter.”

Mafume’s MDC Alliance party said the arrest was a “flimsy political case” and that the charges against him were “unclear”.

“His real offence was winning the mayoral vote,” the MDC Alliance tweeted hours after the arrest.

Mafume was elected in September.

“They want to remove him & replace him with a ZANU-PF proxy,” the MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa tweeted, referring the ruling party.

Harare has been governed by opposition figures for more than a decade.

ZANU-PF often accuses MDC-led councils of corruption and incompetence.

In 2004, the government suspended the first opposition mayor Elias Mudzuri and replaced his council with a commission appointed by a local ZANU-PF minister.

Mafume’s predecessor Herbert Gomba was arrested for alleged land scams in July and was also charged with criminal abuse of office.

Gomba was released on bail in August and barred from resuming his mayoral functions. – AFP

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