Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma was on Wednesday arrested by the police and charged with 'undermining' the authority of Robert Mugabe.
The MDC-T reacted furiously to his arrest saying the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will take up the issue head-on with Mugabe.
The minister, a deputy treasurer-general of the MDC-T was picked up at 3:30pm from his Harare offices. A statement released by the MDC-T said one of the arresting officers, a detective Sergeant Kamzimbi, told Mangoma he was being arrsted for chanting anti-Mugabe slogans at a party rally he addressed in Bindura in May this year. The other detectives were detective constable Nzombe, detective constable Dickson and detective constable Gandidzanwa.
It is alleged Mangoma chanted 'Mugabe Chifa, Mugabe Chibva' (Mugabe die, Mugabe go). The minister denied the charges.
He was initially detained at Harare central police CID Law and Order Section before he was driven off towards Bindura. Just after getting past the new Zimbabwe Defence College, along the Harare-Bindura highway, the police vehicle made a u-turn and headed back to Harare central police station. There, Mangoma spent about 30 minutes before he was released.
According to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Mangoma was released after signing a warned and cautioned statement. The Lawyers group used social networking website Twitter to update the public about what was happening, prompting an immediate and angry reaction from Zimbabweans using the website. Observers also commented that Mangoma's swift release could have been a result of the very public Twitter reaction to his arrest.
A fuming diplomat based in Harare condemned the arrest, asking what it was in aid of. He described ZANU PF, who he said control the police, as a bunch of mad people who are 'stupid and idiots'.
Phillan Zamchiya, the regional coordinator for the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said the tough security laws have no place in a modern democracy where freedom of expression should be a cornerstone of our liberties.
This is not the first time that Mangoma has been detained by the police. In March this year, he was arrested on corruption charges relating to a botched US$5 million fuel deal.
He was eventually acquitted by a High Court Judge over the charges that he authorised the purchase of five million litres of fuel, without going to tender.
Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, then told the court it was common knowledge fuel was in short supply at the time and the Minister was therefore alleviating a national crisis.