Police arrested a senior minister Friday after he called President Robert Mugabe a liar, the party of Zimbabwe’s prime minister said.
Hard-liners in Mugabe’s party accused Jameson Timba of insulting Mugabe, an offense under sweeping security laws, when he said Mugabe lied over the outcome of a recent regional summit on Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis.
The former opposition party of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said in a statement police accused Timba of “undermining the authority of the president.”
Timba, minister of state in Tsvangirai’s office, was being held late Friday at the main Harare police station, said party official Nelson Chamisa.
Timba attended the summit and contradicted Mugabe’s account that regional leaders withdrew a damning report on the slow pace of reforms and continuing political violence blamed on Mugabe’s party.
Mugabe insisted the Southern African Development Community, a regional economic and political bloc, cleared his party’s name over allegations reported to the grouping by the chief Zimbabwe mediator, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa.
Mugabe’s party has also called for his arrest for insulting Mugabe, accusations usually applied to remarks made by political hecklers or those who curse Mugabe in bars or on buses. Those convicted have been fined or briefly jailed.