Rushwaya: A dramatic life of scandal
WHEN Henrietta Rushwaya was arrested at the Robert Mugabe International Airport in October 2020 while allegedly trying to smuggle 6 kilogrammes of gold to Dubai, many Zimbabweans believed the case was a tip of the iceberg and that she had been involved in such dealings before.
Rushwaya, who is President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s niece and the president of the Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation, is of course denying the smuggling charges, claiming she picked the wrong handbag as she went to the airport.
The matter is still playing out in the courts. But the controversial former Zimbabwe Football Association chief executive, whose tenure was marred by allegations of match fixing in which she played a central role, may have nailed herself as a dirty player in the gold sector, who has facilitated the looting of gold through private jets and helped in money laundering schemes, after being recorded by an Al Jazeera undercover investigative team.
Rushwaya, who has a string of past scandals dating back to 2007, was among those exposed by undercover reporters who, posing as gangsters with up to US$1 billion in dirty money, approached President Mnangagwa’s Ambassador-at-Large, Eubert Angel, and critical players in Zimbabwe’s gold sector seeking to launder cash, with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Fidelity Printers and Refiners acting as a laundromat.
Angel is recorded phoning Rushwaya, who reveals they use private jets to pick up gold as part of their smuggling and laundering activities.
“You want gold, we can make the call and it’s done with the president of the miners’ association, right this minute. Let me just call Rushwaya,” says Angel to undercover reporters, while calling.
Angel then tells Rushwaya he has people who want to get gold “like the other deals that we normally do with these people, like the one we did in Dubai.
He tells the ZMF boss that the investors are prepared to send a private jet that picks up gold every week.
“Oh perfect. Now that’s okay. It’s doable. What quantity do they do?” asks Rushwaya. Angel tells Rushwaya the dealers want 100kgs of gold every week. She immediately offers them a 4% discount on world prices, before detailing how she can assist them to clean their money.
“They bring in US$10 million, for instance. Five million will be put into Fidelity for the duration of their relationship. They get gold worth US$5 million every week, they take it out, bring another US$5 million,” she says.
Rushwaya also offers to clean an additional US$5 million through one of her producers, whom she says can add onto the parcel that is taken out, bring the total to US$10 million a week.
“You can easily open an account for them under one of your many companies. We are the only sector in the country that is paying in foreign currency cash basis,” she says. From the documentary it is clear that Rushwaya is a major player in gold smuggling and money laundering syndicates operating in Zimbabwe.