An associate of Zimbabwe Miners Federation president Henrietta Rushwaya implicated first lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and her twin son, Collins, after Rushwaya was arrested for gold smuggling on Monday, it has emerged.
An internal police memo seen by ZimLive says after Rushwaya’s arrest at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport with 6kg of gold in her handbag, Gift Karanda tried to intercede on her behalf.
Karanda, 44, allegedly told police officers that the gold Rushwaya was carrying “belonged to the First Lady and one Collins, a son to the First Family who was supposed to have brought it but due to other commitments had requested Rushwaya to transport it on his behalf.”
Collins, who was previously linked to a Covid-19 procurement scandal involving US$60 million, has denied the claims to friends, a source told ZimLive.
In the National Assembly on Thursday, Zanu PF MP Pupurai Togarepi stood up to deny that Rushwaya was related to President Mnangagwa, a claim made in the House of Lords in the United Kingdom on Tuesday.
Togarepi fumed: “Why is Lord Peter Hain lying, who lied to him that Henrietta Rushwaya is President Mnangagwa’s niece? Is there anything honourable in parroting and reproducing falsehoods from social media platforms in the so-called House of Lords, perhaps House of Lies?
“In his ignorance, Hain insinuates that what Henrietta Rushwaya did had the blessings of the President. What a load of rubbish from a supposed Lord.”
Police on Thursday confirmed the arrest of six people, including Karanda, who allegedly misrepresented that he was a Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operative.
Karanda, whose business address is listed as the Zimbabwe Miners Federation in the police memo, is being charged for defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
Police also confirmed the arrests of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s security aide Stephen Chenjerai Tserayi, 45, CIO operative Raphios Mufandauya, 37, and 52-year-old Pakistan businessman Ali Mohamad who owns a vehicle import company, Japan 786.
When she was arrested, Rushwaya told investigators that the gold worth US$333,000 belonged to Mohamad, who had given her instructions to take it to Dubai where she was to deliver it to an unnamed individual.
The police communication from the Criminal Investigations Department’s Minerals Flora and Fauna Unit (MFFU) says Mohamad is charged with smuggling, the same as Rushwaya.
Tserayi and Mufandauya, meanwhile, face charges of criminal abuse of office as public officials for “using their positions as members of the Central Intelligence Organisation to escort Rushwaya while evading all security check points at the airport with the intent to facilitate smuggling of the gold.”
Police say Rushwaya – who has been remanded in custody until Friday when a magistrate will rule on her bail bid – will face additional charges of money laundering and bribery. She allegedly offered a US$5,000 bribe to a Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe employee and an intelligence officer to secure her freedom.