Police: Lawmaker jailed for gay accusation against Mugabe

Story highlights

  • The lawmaker allegedly made the remarks at a rally earlier this month
  • Karenyi denies calling Mugabe "a gay who sleeps around"
  • Tsvangirai formed a coalition with Mugabe's government in 2009
A Zimbabwean legislator will spend Christmas in jail after being arrested for allegedly describing President Robert Mugabe as "a gay who sleeps around," police said Thursday.
Lynnette Karenyi was taken into custody Monday on allegations that she said the 87-year-old leader has a gay relationship with his former information minister, Jonathan Moyo, and had one as well with Canaan Banana, who served as the country's ceremonial president between 1980 and 1987.
Banana, who died in 2003, was convicted in 1999 of sodomizing his aide and served time in prison.
Karenyi denies making the statements, which allegedly came at a political rally in early December.
Mugabe has made strong anti-homosexual remarks over the years, calling gays and lesbians "worse than pigs and dogs who know their natural mating partners."
Karenyi was granted a $200 bail Tuesday but prosecutors immediately invoked a law which suspends bail for seven days as the state decides whether to appeal the bail ruling.
Police told CNN Thursday that Karenyi, an ally of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, has been transferred to a prison in Mutare, about 300 km (186 miles) east of Harare.
"She will appear again in court on 28 December," said a police officer.
A spokesman for the lawmaker's party, the Movement for Democratic Change, says the "trumped up charges" are politically motivated and an effort by Mugabe's Zanu-PF party to "decimate our party."
"It wants to push us out of the government. We have no problem with arrests, but when the law is selectively applied, there is a problem," said MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora. "This unnecessarily strains relations in our government."
The MDC said the case was an example of state institutions being "abused" by Zanu-PF for political reasons.
Zanu-PF had no immediate reaction to the MDC statements.
Tsvangirai formed a coalition government with Mugabe in 2009.