Scores arrested for booing Auxillia

Auxillia has been crisscrossing the country with some ministers, government and Zanu PF officials on tow, on supposedly philanthropic duties and cookout events.

Nine villagers from Wastomba in Manicaland have been charged for allegedly booing first lady Auxillia Mnangagwa during an address where they are said to have disapproved of her philanthropic work.

The incident occurred last Wednesday at Watsomba business centre.

Auxillia has been crisscrossing the country with some ministers, government and Zanu PF officials on tow, on supposedly philanthropic duties and cookout events.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has gone on to award his wife with top humanitarian awards for her donations to the poor amid claims of nepotism.

There have been reports of ordinary villagers being forced to attend some of her events.

Last week, frustrated hungry villagers could not contain their anger and publicly vented out their frustration against the first lady.

Nine of the villagers namely Nester Chatiwana, Panashe Machekanzondo, Winnet Sithole, Maria Choto, Esnath Choto, Ellen Rujuwa, Faith Chidhakwa, Patience Matasva and Joyce Mashingaidza were later arrested and detained at Mutare Central Police Station.

Zanu PF insiders who attended the meeting said Auxillia ordered the arrest of the nine for alleged indiscipline after they booed her while delivering her closing remarks.

The villagers were allegedly protesting against her decision to load back onto the truck leftovers from goods she had donated, that included blankets and foodstuffs.

Non-beneficiaries of her patronage had to scramble for salt and other minor items thrown at them.

This, according to Zanu PF insiders, irritated the hungry villagers.

After they protested, Auxillia allegedly ordered her security to encircle part of the crowd, who included the nine.

Some managed to run away while the remainder were exposed to crude lectures that included subtle accusations that those wearing mini-skirts and trousers were husband snatchers.

After a lengthy tongue lashing, she allegedly ordered the police to ensure that the nine would sleep in remand prison.

The nine were then arrested and later charged with disorderly conduct in a public place as defined in section 41(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

The meeting was attended by Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Misheck Mugadza, Mutasa Central North MP Innocent Benza, chiefs and headmen.

In court, prosecutors claimed that the villagers stood up and disrupted Mnangagwa’s delivery of her speech by booing her.

Indications are that the villagers were showing their disgruntlement for not receiving some groceries and clothes, which she was doling out to people at Watsomba Business Centre.

“While making her closing remarks, the accused persons who were seated on the ground stood up,” reads part of the charge sheet detailing the charges against the nine villagers seen by The Standard.

“They started booing the first lady so as to disrupt her speech and show disgruntlement that they had not received anything.”

In court on Friday,  prosecutors said the behaviour allegedly exhibited by Chatiwana, Machekanzondo, Sithole, Choto, Choto, Rujuwa, Chidhakwa, Matasva and Mashingaidza was unlawful.

The nine villagers, who were represented by Tatenda Sigauke and David Tandiri from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), were released on free bail by Mutare magistrate Prisca Manhibi.

They will return to court on April 30.

In their defence, the villagers denied the charges.

They argued that they were targeted during a dragnet arrest after they opted to leave the venue early during the time when Auxillia was still addressing people and before being dismissed.

The alleged booing of Auxillia is reminiscent of the heckling of former first lady Grace Mugabe, who was jeered by some ruling Zanu PF political party youth supporters, led by the late Magura Charumbira in November 2017 at White City stadium in Bulawayo.

Charumbira died a year later in a car accident in Norton.

The Zanu PF youths were accused of insulting and undermining the late former president Robert Mugabe’s wife.

The heckling of the former first lady irked her husband, who pointed fingers at Mnangagwa, who at the time served as his deputy and lieutenant.

Mugabe later fired Mnangagwa, triggering a chain reaction that led to his ouster in a coup.

Allies of the former first lady under their camp by the name G40, such as former ministers Saviour Kasukuwere, Jonathan Moyo and Walter Mzembi and others were forced to flee the country.

The Zanu PF youths, who were represented by ZLHR, were later set free after prosecutors withdrew charges of insulting or undermining the former first lady.

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