3 January 2018

Zimbabwe: Jailed Ex-Minister Machaya Critically Ill - Family Reveals

FORMER minister of state for Midlands province Jason Machaya who has been in remand prison since Christmas is reportedly seriously and admitted at Gweru Provincial Hospital's Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Machaya is one of several former ministers who have been arrested following the November military revolt which toppled then president Robert Mugabe.

Military Generals leading the operation denied it was a coup, claiming they were only targeting "criminals" around the 93-year-old leader who were allegedly causing political and economic mayhem in the country.

The claimed "criminals" have however turned out to be exclusively members of the G40 Zanu PF faction which backed Mugabe's wife Grace in her claimed bid to succeed her aged husband as leader of the party and country.

Machaya was linked to the faction which has since dispersed with its leading lights such as ex-cabinet ministers Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere and Patrick Zhuwao now exiled.

An unnamed relative of the former Midlands minister said the detained Machaya was critically ill, possibly due to the effects of an accident he was involved in and then the subsequent death of his son, events he was recovering from before he was arrested.

"Remember he was involved in the horrific accident and he was still recovering," the relative told the Herald this Tuesday.

"He also lost his son in a car accident recently and he was arrested while he was still mourning. I think this is what affected him and we are holding our breath hoping for better."

Machaya's lawyer Hillary Garikayi reportedly confirmed the development but could not shed more light on the former minister's illness.

"Yes, my client has taken ill and had to be taken to the hospital for a medical check-up. You are the journalist and you can go and write the story without necessarily bothering me," the attorney was quoted saying.

While prison officials were present at the hospital when the paper visited, bosses at the referral hospital declined to comment.

Machaya was arrested three days before Christmas. He was held in custody at Gokwe prison then recently transferred to WhaWha maximum prison to assist with investigations on charges of criminal abuse of office.

Analysts have criticized the high-profile arrests made since president Emmerson Mnangagwa took over from predecessor Robert Mugabe, describing them as political purges rather than sincere attempts to curb corruption.

Although Mnangagwa has been preaching the anti-corruption gospel, he staffed his own government with ministers who are yet to answer to various charges of grand sleaze, including Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu and deputy finance minister Terrence Mukupe.

Former Finance minister Ignatius Chombo is another G40 leader still answering to various charges of abuse of office along with ex-Zanu PF youth leader Kudzanai Chipanga.

Other former cabinet members who have also been picked up by the police include ex-agriculture minister Joseph Made and Makhosini Hlongwane who was sports minister.

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