Alleged gold smuggler Henrietta Rushwaya has been retained unopposed as president of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) in a clear “vote of confidence” despite her pending criminal trial.
Rushwaya, 54, was arrested while trying to board a Dubai-bound flight at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport last October and charged with attempted trafficking of 6kg of gold.
The federation, which represents small-scale miners, went on to suspend the former Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) CEO before her reinstatement in February after a national executive meeting declared her removal unconstitutional.
Rushwaya will lead the federation for the next five years after she was unanimously endorsed by all provinces, though the tone of her acceptance speech betrayed an organization ravaged by divisions.
“My fellow miners, the voice of the miners have spoken. A clear victory for me and the rest of the national executive members… I am humbled by the trust and confidence you have placed in me,” Rushwaya said at a weekend ceremony attended by mines minister Winston Chitando.
“I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify. I will serve all the artisanal, small to medium scale miners with all my heart.”
The alleged gold trafficker said she had “sought this office to restore the confidence of the ASM [artisanal mining] sector, adding that “ASM activities have been very so stigmatized. I want to rebuild the backbone of the nation and make sure that the ASM sector is aligned in the mainstream economy.”
Suggesting a troubled federation, Rushwaya told delegates it was “time to put away the harsh rhetoric. To lower the temperature. To see each other again. To listen to each other again. To make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy. We are not enemies. We are all miners.
“We have room for the losers and critics. The Bible tells us that to everything there is a season – a time to build, a time to reap, a time to sow. And a time to heal. This is the time to heal all the miners.”
She added: “Too many dreams have been deferred for too long. We must make the promise of the miners real for everybody including women in mining, youth in mining, and people living with disabilities. We must restore the faith and confidence of the ASM sector who are the beacon of the country. I’ve always believed we can define mining in one word: possibilities.” – ZimLive