THE woes of beleaguered former Zimbabwean first lady, Grace Mugabe, are mounting after it was disclosed she is under investigation for alleged involvement in illegal shipping of ivory to foreign markets.
Grace, the wife of deposed leader, Robert Mugabe, allegedly exported consignments of illegal ivory to China, United Arab Emirates (UAE), United States (US) and destinations in the Far East while she occupied the influential office.
Her alleged illegal trade in ivory is said to have occurred between September 2015 and October 2017 with some of the smuggled ivory intercepted in Hong Kong, weighing 51kg and worth over US$100 000 (about R1,2 million) in two inbound airmail parcels from Zimbabwe.
Tinashe Farawo, Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) spokesperson, confirmed investigations were underway.
“We received a report from a whistleblower and some of her clients (Grace Mugabe).
“Police and the whistleblowers laid a trap for suppliers believed to be working for her,” Farawo said.
“The culprits were caught and that is how the investigations started. When we were confronted with so much evidence, there was no way we could ignore.
“We had to act.”
It is alleged some smuggled ivory worth several millions of dollars were guised as “gifts” to dignitaries of the Mugabes and thus not subjected to search or scanning at airports.
The ivory scandal comes as the former first lady risks losing a doctorate the University of Zimbabwe controversially awarded her in 2014.
Two years ago, she fell out with a Lebanese businessman over a $1,3 million (about R15,6 million) ring she bought.
It has emerged she has some properties in neighbouring South Africa, Middle East, Indonesia, Malaysia and Hong Kong as well as vast tracts of land she grabbed from villagers and some commercial farmers during her husband’s reign. – CAJ News