Hurt First Lady on the warpath… as she lashes claims linking her to Rushwaya gold case

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Blessing Masakadza

STAFF WRITER

masakadzab@dailynews.co.zw

FIRST Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, pictured, has come out guns blazing after she and one of her sons were linked to a recent attempted gold smuggling case which led to the arrest of controversial Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) boss Henrietta Rushwaya and a number of security agents, the Daily News reports.

In a rare statement yesterday, Auxillia also challenged law enforcement agents to investigate her and make public their findings with regards to the “malicious claims” that the 6kg of gold seized at Robert Mugabe International Airport last week belonged to her and her son Collins.

At the same time, police also said yesterday that the claims that the First Lady and Collins were the owners of the seized gold were “malicious” — as their investigations suggested that the allegations made by Rushwaya’s accomplice, Gift Karanda, were meant to defeat the course of justice.

All this comes as President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government have been stepping up their efforts to bring to book public officials and other people mired in corruption.

The angry Auxillia said yesterday that if there was incriminating evidence that she was involved in last week’s attempted smuggling, police were free to publish their findings.

“I do not engage in illegal, narrow-minded pursuits like gold smuggling. I have no dealings nor involvement with … Rushwaya of any illegal kind.

“I am challenging the police through their relevant office to issue a statement with regards to the utterances by one officer during her arrest that falsely implicated me and my son Collins.

“I am a strong advocate for transparency and honesty and any continued silence by the police can be misconstrued as a cover-up,” the First Lady said.

“If there is any incriminating evidence against me, I challenge the police to present it to the nation without fear or favour. If there be none, I also challenge the police to say so,” she added.

The miffed Auxillia also revealed that she had been hurt by the fact that her son Collins was receiving an undeserved public battering over the malicious claims.

This comes after his name was also used in a recent and fraudulent fuel transaction that saw a Highfield man arrested and appearing before the courts.

“I am greatly aggravated by the continuation of these false stories and claims. It pains me that my son, who is hard working and … obedient … is being attacked for no reason other than being a member of the First Family,” Auxillia said.

She said further that she was firmly behind the fight against corruption, adding that the false allegations against her would not affect her philanthropic work.

“I will not be dissuaded from working for those who need my help in both rural and urban areas.

“I will also support totally all anti-corruption activities regardless of the many malicious attacks clearly designed to cow me from supporting them. I stand firm on my principles,” she said.

Meanwhile, police said yesterday that investigations had revealed that the claims by Karanda were false and meant to defeat the course of justice.

“Comprehensive investigations have proved that the statement by Gift Karanda was false and malicious with intent to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.

“As such, he was accordingly charged and the case is pending before the court,” national police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said.

All this comes as Rushwaya has been accused of being part of a wider smuggling syndicate that allegedly involved intelligence operatives.

This followed the arrest of security agents that include a member of Mnangagwa’s Close Unit, Stephen Tserayi, who was busted together with several police officers following Rushwaya’s arrest.

Rushwaya, 53, was arrested last Monday, after she was found in possession of 6kg of gold.

She was, at the time, due to fly to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, when airport security scanners flagged her hand luggage — which was said to be containing the gold worth nearly US$400 000.

Mnangagwa has since cut loose Tserayi after he  was implicated in the alleged gold smuggling racket.

On Friday, Mnangagwa said his administration would pursue justice without fear or favour, and also severely punish criminals — including public officials linked to graft.

He also warned security officials that his government would not compromise on discipline and exemplary behaviour, which was needed during the discharge of their duties.

Speaking at the official handover of the reins at the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPSC) — from its retiring boss Paradzai Zimondi to the new commissioner-general Moses Chihobvu at Ntabazinduna Training School outside Bulawayo — Mnangagwa said the government would pursue justice without fear or favour, and also severely punish criminals — including public officials linked to graft.

“We have zero tolerance to corruption … remain disciplined and conduct yourself beyond reproach … The law will take its course on anyone found wanting.

“Don’t be caught on the wrong side. Desist from criminal activities in society. Crime does not pay and the long arm of the law will catch up with all criminals.

“In the second republic, justice will be pursued without fear or favour. Criminals will reap what they sow,” he warned.

This comes as Mnangagwa has cut loose a number of high-ranking government officials, including Cabinet ministers, after they were linked to alleged cases of corruption.

He has so far sacked former Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo and ex-Labour and Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira, after they were mired in corruption.

In addition, several other high profile individuals have been arraigned before the courts as the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) clamps down on corruption.

Former Energy minister in the late president Robert Mugabe’s Cabinet, Samuel Undenge, is currently serving a jail term after he was recently convicted of corruption.

Also sent to jail was former Director of State Residences, Douglas Tapfuma, who was convicted of corruptly importing vehicles for his own gain. He was sentenced to an effective four years in prison.

Currently, Zacc is probing deputy Health and Child Care minister John Mangwiro, over accusations of having allegedly arm-twisted national medicines and medical consumables procurer, Natpharm, to award a US$5,6 million tender to an unregistered company.

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