SUSPENDED Zimbabwe Miners Federation president Henrietta Rushwaya yesterday exonerated First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and claimed ownership of the gold that was seized from her at the airport.
Rushwaya also said she is licensed to possess gold.
She said she is a victim of politics and the involvement of the Criminal Investigation Department Law and Order had resulted in the matter being politicised by giving rise to allegations of name dropping involving members of the First Family.
This was said by her lawyer, Tapson Dzvetero, during cross examination of State witness and investigating officer Michael Chibaya after he was asked why the matter was now at Law and Order, which deals with political matters as he had stated earlier, rather than the minerals department.
Rushwaya is jointly charged with businessman Ali Mohamad, Central Intelligence Organisation officers Steven Tserayi and Raphios Mufandauya; and Gift Karanda on allegations of smuggling and possessing gold without authority. They are applying for bail, which is being opposed by the State.
Rushwaya stated that the gold was hers and that she had mistakenly taken the wrong bag to the airport, which resulted in her arrest on allegations of smuggling.
She claimed that the “gold bag” was similar to the one she was supposed to travel with and was mistakenly placed in the car. She said she realised the mistake at the airport after scanners detected the precious mineral.
On the allegation of illegal possession of gold, Rushwaya said she is the president of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation and she is a miner in her own right, with mines in Shangani and Umfurudzi and has a licence which allows her to possess gold.
The permit was produced and shown to the investigating officer yesterday.
She is also disputing claims that she implicated Mohamad, arguing she never produced any document as alleged by the Pakistani’s company details.
In opposing bail yesterday, investigating officer Chibaya said the net was closing in on officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz), Fidelity Printers and Refineries and airport security agents whom he believed to be part of a gold smuggling syndicate.
He told the court that CCTV at the airport was tampered with to allow Rushwaya to pass through with her contraband undetected.