By Lisa Vives
Marry Mubaiwa, estranged wife of Zimbabwe’s Vice President, faces a battery of charges – from fraud, money laundering to attempted murder – in a case that has startled even the most battle-hardened citizens.
Ms. Mubaiwa, 38, is accused of unlawfully transferring $919,000 to South Africa under the guise of importing goods, according to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) which, they believe, may have involved buying a home in the neighboring country.
The former wife also faces charges of fraudulently seeking an upgrade of her customary union to a civil marriage without her husband’s consent.
Investigators said Ms. Mubaiwa was in her husband’s hospital room on June 8 when she asked security to leave her alone with him. They said she removed her husband’s intravenous drip and a catheter, causing Chiwenga to bleed, and then forced him off the bed.
The security detail interrupted her when she tried to bring him out of the hospital ward, prosecutors said. Chiwenga spent four months in China before returning to Zimbabwe.
Gen. Chiwenga, a retired Commander of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces, played a key role in overthrowing former President Robert Mugabe in 2017.
Ms. Mubaiwa remains in remand prison awaiting trial on December 31, and is being investigated on fresh allegations of swindling State aides of their per diems while in foreign lands and grabbing vehicles awarded to Miss Zimbabwe pageant winners.
Under current President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the government claims progress is being made in its war on corruption. In one of the most high-profile anti-corruption cases, Joram Gumbo, a minister in the presidency, was detained on suspicion of directing a government-owned airline formed in 2017 to use a property owned by his relative as its headquarters, according to a charge sheet seen by Reuters.
Gumbo, who was transport minister at the time, is also accused of abusing his position by forcing the re-appointment of the head of a state-owned company after the official was found guilty of corruption and fired by a tribunal.
This abuse of office is alleged to have cost the government $3.7 million.
Gumbo could not be reached for comment.
More worrying is the near collapse of the economy due to opposing agendas of the finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, and the Governor of the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank, John Mangudya. Directives are issued by one without informing the other, policies are reversed, and a downward contraction of the economy is foreseen by 6.5% this year. Annual inflation reached 440% this year.
Finally, Zimbabwe is facing its worst hunger crisis in a decade with half of the population – 7.7 million people – food insecure, the World Food Program (WFP) said this month.