Grace Mugabe ‘used state-owned ivory as gifts for Asian first ladies’: report

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Harare – Zimbabwe’s former first lady Grace Mugabe ordered national parks officials to release ivory to her from its storerooms to be given as gifts to first ladies in Asia, a newspaper claimed Wednesday.

Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has commissioned an investigation into the alleged practice and the findings will be released soon.

Unnamed first ladies

“I was told that she (Grace Mugabe) would prevail upon (national parks) officials to release the ivory on the basis that they were the first lady’s donations to unnamed fellow first ladies in the Far East,” Muchinguri-Kashiri told the private Daily News.

“I then commissioned a full investigation into the matter which has since been concluded and as of now, their report is being compiled, which I will release on conclusion,” she added.

Grace Mugabe was not contacted for comment on the claim.

Ivory stockpile

Two years ago Zimparks, the state wildlife authority, was reported to have 70 tons of ivory worth millions of US dollars stored in Harare. The tusks are those seized from poachers or collected from animals that died from natural causes.

The environment minister said the government is also probing the mysterious death of a police officer who was investigating the attempted smuggling of 200kg of ivory to Malaysia through Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in December.

The minister said the unnamed officer had gone to Mozambique on personal business and died there. The owner of the smuggled ivory is still unknown.

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