Zimbabwe’s deputy information minister has been fired, hours after dismissing the abduction of a female member of parliament and two of her colleagues as a row over payment for sex.
The government gave no reason for the dismissal of Energy Mutodi.
A tweet by Mr Mutodi about the opposition MP, Joana Mamombe, has been deleted.
The ex-assistant minister is quoted to have said that Mamombe, a Movement for Democratic Change MP, and two other female activists, who were abducted, tortured and sexually abused by suspected state security agents, were commercial sex workers injured following a dispute over payment for sexual services.
The deputy minister has also been engaged in a public feud with other Zimbabwean ministers.
Foreign embassies in Harare, including those of the European Union and the United States, have demanded a swift and credible investigation into what they describe as the abduction and torture of the women.
They were treated in hospital after being found at the roadside near the town of Bindura.
Two days earlier they were arrested for taking part in an anti- government protest.