Grace Mugabe ally paid to get trafficked Zim women home
02 May 2016, 12:34
Harare – A rich Zimbabwean businessman with links to First Lady Grace Mugabe has paid for 32 women, trafficked to Kuwait under false pretences, to fly home, it has emerged.
Zimbabweans on social media have been thanking Wicknell Chivayo – who was reportedly seen on a video clip dining with Robert Mugabe's wife and son in Dubai last month – for paying for the women to fly home.
"I remain tirelessly committed to assisting where there's a worthy cause and the country's reputation is at risk," Chivayo said on his Facebook page.
The controversial figure, who once served time in a Zimbabwean maximum security prison for fraud, calls himself Sir Wicknell.
The Sunday Mail newspaper reported the women arrived in Harare on Saturday evening.
Welcoming them home at Harare International Airport, Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda, said their situation had been "desperate".
Lured to Kuwait
The women were part of a group of 150 lured to Kuwait under the impression they would get jobs as waitresses or domestic workers. But on arrival, they appear to have been told they owed the price of their air tickets and were to be paid only very small salaries. Fifteen women were brought back home at the end of March.
Of this latest group of returnees, 23 had to be issued emergency travel documents because their passports were confiscated in Kuwait. At least one was believed to be pregnant.
The privately-owned Newsday reported on Thursday that the government had no money to bring this group home. The paper put the cost of the air tickets for the women at $12 000.
The Herald newspaper quoted Chivayo as saying: "I did this sincerely out of the goodness of my heart."
Luxury-car loving Chivayo recently emerged as the sole financier of the national football team, the Warriors. He called Grace Mugabe his "amazing mother" and said in a post to Facebook two weeks ago that she told him to expect criticism "when executing national duty".