Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has fired the country’s deputy information minister, Energy Mutodi hours after he insulted three “abducted” opposition officials in a tweet.
A statement from the presidency on Wednesday did not give reasons for Mutodi’s immediate “termination of employment”.
A prominent opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) lawmaker and two party officials had been arrested earlier for protesting over food shortages experienced during the coronavirus lockdown.
The all-female trio were then abducted from the police station by unidentified men and taken out of the capital where they said they had been beaten up and sexually assaulted.
Dumped by a roadside, they were found by party members and taken to a hospital.
In his tweet, Mutodi claimed the three opposition officials “went out for a romantic night to Bindura with their lovers,” who happened to be miners.
He tweeted that the women were beaten up “when they demanded foreign currency for their services.”
The incident has attracted condemnation from international rights groups and western diplomats.
Heads of mission of the European Union countries and the US based in Harare said they “expect from the government of Zimbabwe a swift, thorough and credible investigation into the abduction and torture” of the opposition members and two others reportedly assaulted in Bulawayo.
“The perpetrators of heinous acts of this kind and other human rights violations need to be identified and prosecuted,” they said in a statement.
The sacked deputy minister’s latest callous remarks came a week after he was reprimanded for criticising Tanzanian President John Magufuli’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mutodi has also been at loggerheads with information minister Monica Mutsvangwa whom he accused of teaming up with her husband to eliminate him.
Last week he tweeted that he was “living in fear” of foreign affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo and the information minister’s husband.
Mutodi becomes the second high profile government official to be fired by Mnangagwa, following the removal of former tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira last year.
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