Embattled Deputy Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment Tongai Matutu, who is also the MDC-T MP for Masvingo Urban, was on Monday quizzed by the police after he refused to pay a $1 tollgate fee along the Bulawayo-Masvingo Highway on Saturday.
Matutu, who was last week fined $100 or face 25 days in prison after being found guilty of assaulting Chief Serima, Vengesai Rushwaya, confirmed the development.
“A detective from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) called me concerning the issue and I told him to verify with the CMED because I was driving a service vehicle. He said they are investigating the status of the car,” Matutu said.
“Although it is my personal car, it is a service vehicle and the fuel to keep it moving comes from government. I should not pay anything as this is a government vehicle. How can I pay a road toll fee with a government vehicle when all other government vehicles are exempted?
“I did not have a logbook as I do not move with one. I am actually surprised that such a small issue has been blown out of proportion.”
He was travelling from Bulawayo to Masvingo.
Although Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Tinaye Matake declined to comment preferring to refer all questions to the Police General Headquarters in Harare, police sources said a docket had been opened against Matutu .
Matutu believes all his woes are politically motivated. During his trial for assaulting Chief Serima, he told the court that politics was behind his prosecution.
“Zanu PF is out to eliminate me. My life is in danger due to these political battles. There is far more than the eye can see. This is a battle for the control of Masvingo province,” Matutu said recently.
The MDC-T won the majority of seats in the province during the 2008 harmonised elections for the first time in history. Matutu is credited for the victory in Masvingo.
Meanwhile, NewsDay reporters Moses Matenga and Stephen Chadenga report that MDC-T MP for Mkoba, Amos Chibaya, was arrested on Saturday and yesterday spent his second day in in police cells on assault charges after party youths using his vehicle descended on a known war veteran believed to be a serving soldier.
Chibaya, who was arrested and detained alongside his driver, is expected to appear in court soon on allegations of contravening section 89 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (assault).
He is being held at Gweru Central Police Station while his driver Augustine Mutuso was thrown into cells at Mtapa Police Station.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed Chibaya’s arrest, saying: “He (Chibaya) was arrested on Saturday for an assault of a Mkoba resident. He was arrested together with his driver and they will appear in court soon.”
Chibaya’s lawyer Reginald Chidawanyika said the complainant was allegedly assaulted by youths using Chibaya’s vehicle.
It is alleged the MDC-T MP attended a youth forum in Mkoba sanctioned by police.
After the meeting, some youths went to Mkoba shops, where it is alleged the complainant verbally abused them leading to one of them jumping out of the vehicle and assaulted him.
Chibaya was arrested two hours after the incident when the car the youths were using was identified as his.
“He was asked to come to Nehanda police station at around 8pm on Saturday. He was asked a few questions and told to come back to the police station the next morning (Sunday),” Chidawanyika said.
“On Sunday he reported to Nehanda police station but was told to go to Gweru Central police station’s Law and Order section where they said they wanted him to disclose the names of the youths who used his car at the time of the attack.”
Police at the station are alleged to have accused Chibaya of protecting the youths leading to his arrest and detention while assault charges were leveled against him.
Chidawanyika said Chibaya is denying the charges.
“Police said they could not take him to court on Monday because they were in a series of meetings. However, they said he might appear in court today (Tuesday),” said Chidawanyika.
An MDC-T councillor, Trust Chinene, said Chibaya was not directly involved in the assault, but the known war veteran only identified as Hungwe insulted MDC-T youths who were coming from a constituency Youth Forum on Saturday.
MDC-T spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa said the latest arrest of Chibaya was a clear case of harassment against MDC-T members.
“This is a clear case of harassment of MDC-T members while people like Jabulani Sibanda who have been tormenting people in Zaka are roaming freely,” he said.
“This arrest of an MP undermines the credibility of the inclusive government. Who would respect a government that is at war with its own people?”