Douglas Karoro and his two alleged accomplices in stealing farming inputs from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) were on Monday, 23 May granted $50 000 bail, each by a Harare Magistrate.
Karoro is Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development.
Karoro is charged with fraudulently acquiring inputs from Mushumbi Pools GMB depot worth US$73 300.
The inputs (fertiliser, maize seed and horticulture kits) were meant for the Presidential Inputs Scheme for Mbire farmers.
Karoro is jointly charged with Jeremy Phiri and Dean Dzimunya, with all facing three counts of fraud, the same as the depot manager who appeared in court last week.
The three are being represented by lawyers Admire Rubaya, Malvern Mapako, Augustine Borerwe and Lucky Dube.
Karoro was arrested on Friday and spent the weekend in custody.
He denied all charges and claimed that his arrest was politically-motivated.
Karoro’s defence lawyers argued that his arrest was caused by his political opponents who want to soil his name and thereby grab the ZANU PF nomination for his Mbire seat in the National Assembly. Said the lawyers:
They did not cause anyone to act on misrepresentation or to anyone.
The dispatch vouchers that the State claims to be in possession of, were not created by any of the accused.
If evidence of the fraud is based on the documents, then surely the State case is grounded on jelly legs.
It is not a serious case and the accused deny that they misrepresented to anyone.
He represents the people of Mbire and he was democratically elected by the beloved people of that constituency.
His political adversaries are sensationalising these offences to make the powers that be angry.
There are political adversaries eyeing his post in the Government and constituency and they have tried too much and failed because he is popular.
They want to muscle him out of Mbire, have by-elections and make sure that he will not be up for selection in 2023 elections.
Prosecutors had opposed bail on the grounds that the three were likely to evade trial.
Harare regional magistrate Stanford Mambanje granted each of the three $50 000 bail.
He also ordered the accused to report once every week to the police.
Mambanje ruled that as an MP, Karoro will not likely try to evade trial or interfere with witnesses.