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Gold bars or blue jeans? Only in Zimbabwe

A new dimension of scandal and intrigue in this part of the world.
The now former president of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation apparently thought she had clothes in her hand luggage … Image: Chris Ratcliffe, Bloomberg

Watching the US election from this side of the Atlantic we began to feel as if it was election time in Zimbabwe – the same emotions, frustrations and anxieties.

This was the last thing we expected from a beacon of democracy, yet we heard phrases from the incumbent, such as: ‘Stop counting’, ‘Illegal votes’, ‘Stealing the election’. As we waited for the final results, we wondered if this is what the world thinks of us in our never-ending cycle of contested elections in Zimbabwe?

For the past fortnight in Zimbabwe, however, we have been gripped not with election fever but with gold fever.

At the forefront is Henrietta Rushwaya, the former CEO of Zifa (Zimbabwe Football Association) who left her post there after being accused of fixing international football matches between 2007 and 2009 in a scandal known as Asiagate.

Rushwaya, president of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation, was caught with six kilograms of gold in her hand luggage at Harare airport.

Everyone knows this is the tiniest tip of a giant golden iceberg, but even so it’s kept us hanging onto every detail.

After a tip-off by detectives, the gold was detected in her hand luggage by a scanner at the airport. The police said Rushwaya “indicated she obtained it from Ali” – who is apparently a licensed gold buyer – and “had been instructed by Ali to leave the gold with an unidentified person at Dubai International Airport” when she arrived there.

Rushwaya was arrested before she had the chance to depart, and since then the sticky spider web has been untangling.

A security aide from the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) – known as the ‘secret police’ – who was involved, fled the airport and was later dismissed from his post by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, who alleged that Rushwaya was romantically involved with Zimbabwe’s prosecutor-general, had criminal charges laid against him.

‘A classic case of organised crime’

Independent online media group New Zimbabwe said Rushwaya was “working with a criminal syndicate that managed to switch off CCTV” at the airport.

Six other people were arrested, including two from the CIO and two senior police officials.

Bail for Rushwaya was agreed but then retracted by the prosecutor, who said “this was a classic case of organised crime” and there was evidence that Rushwaya tried to bribe the two detectives who arrested her. By then, with the writing clearly on the wall, the Miners Federation issued a statement saying it had suspended its president (Rushwaya) for “bringing the name of the organisation into disrepute”.

Then came the cherry on top – Rushwaya’s lawyer said his client had taken the wrong bag to the airport, saying she had put clothes into a bag similar to the one with the gold in it and the “wrong bag was put into her vehicle and she did not have knowledge of the contents” until the scanners picked it up.

Hmmm, only in Zimbabwe can you confuse the weight of six kilograms of gold with a pair of blue jeans. I think most of us would feel a difference in the weight of that hand luggage.

And while we were all watching the US election and the handbag-gate scandal, Zimbabwe increased the price of electricity by 50% – the second 50% increase in a month.

Highway toll gate fees were increased by 166% and passport fees went up from US$53 to US$150.

The registrar-general said there is now a backlog of 400 000 passports and that although funds had been raised to clear the backlog, the money had been “channelled towards fighting Covid-19″.

The corruption-exposing journalist Chin’ono is again incarcerated, instilling yet more fear in those who expose corruption in Zimbabwe.

And the only gold any of us are seeing is that of the sunset as it slips into the horizon these November evenings.

Cathy Buckle is a Zimbabwean writer and blogger living in Marondera, Zimbabwe.

Copyright © Cathy Buckle

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COMMENTS   13

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The one difference between the US and Zimbabwe with regard to elections seems to be the voters.

It took the voter in the US around 4 years to realize he or she made a mistake.

It has been 10 times longer now in Zim and it looks as though the voter has not realized where the problem is just yet??

The story reads like a fiction thriller.

Dubai seems to be destination of choice for money and gold laundering.

6kg of gold will easily be detected at any airport. That is the most stupid thing to do.

Why was she so confident that it would be allowed through at the Dubai Airport? What dont we know?

Yes a stupid thing to do, but I think she believed her ducks were in a row. Just a tip of the ice berg

Stupid is the only consistency there

And true Cathy, 6kg is a lot of wait for a pair of blue jeans

Socialism at it’s best. Unequalness the goal at first, lastly the smugglers has no end, surely 99% are equal poor now. Vote or no vote.

Six kgs at today’s Moneyweb gold quoted price per kg of R936,283.29 = R5,617,698 … expensive hand luggage.

This could be the plot of the next Netflix thriller ….who do you see playing Rushwaya? Dudu?

Brian Molefe.

No, we need a thriller not a tear-jerker

We all know that a hyena never changes its spots. If she was cheating at the Zifa, how was she supposed to be honest at the Mines Feration? Hard to see, but then again, how do you even get employed when you have proven record of dishonesty?
If, as her lawyer says she took a mistaken ‘clothes bag’, instead of the 6kg of gold, as her lawyer nonsensically claims! How come she said, that she received the gold from “Ali” and she was go give it to someone at Dubai Airport. So, are we to believe she was to give a bag she had no intention of taking with her to an airport she was going to, to hand it over, while the bag remained at her house?!!! (Nice try lawyer, but please cut the BS). Meanwhile, what happened to allegations that this gold belonged to people high up (first family)?

It seems that when BLACK LIVES DON’T MATTER the ANC is happy to peddle the view that Zimbabwe’s independence must be respected. Arrest the thug for this statement alone.

From Mana Pools to Vic Falls and from Kariba to Troutbeck, what a tragedy.
Cry the Beloved Country!!

End of comments.

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