Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) staff were left “shaken” after First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa caused a rumpus at the Forbes border post, including having her aides grab a manager by his belt, ZimLive has learnt.
Mnangagwa also shouted at one ZIMRA employee for staring at her in a shock outburst.
The incident allegedly took place in early May as the first lady returned from an unexplained road trip to Mozambique.
A source told ZimLive: “She got out of her vehicle with aides and started shouting at everyone, accusing the border officials of being corrupt. She started asking those who were close for their names. She picked on ZIMRA officer and accused of staring at her as if she was a pr0stitute.
“She then demanded to see the ZIMRA manager, Tichaona Phiri, who was in his office. She sent her aides to get him. He was literally manhandled by his belt to meet her. She shouted at him for not coming to meet her and then instructed her boys to ‘take him and go with him.’
“The poor manager was moved around the border while being held by his belt. She kept on shouting. When the manager was finally let go, she demanded that he should be fired as well as the ZIMRA officer accused of staring.”
Phiri, the regional manager for ZIMRA, has reportedly been working from home since the incident. Other ZIMRA staff were reportedly left “shaken”.
Colleagues described Phiri as a “no-nonsense man who wants things done properly.”
While it remains unclear what prompted the outburst from the president’s wife, some have linked it to two incidents at the border during which goods linked to the first family or their associates were held up.
“Phiri seized 15 trucks loaded with chrome which had been under-weighed. The trucks were destined for shipment in Beira and had the fingerprints of the first family. It took the intervention of the ZIMRA commissioner for customs (Batsirai Chadzingwa) for the trucks to be released,” a source at the border said.
“On another occasion, one of the sons imported some Italian booze which was labelled in Italian. It was held up because no-one at the border understood Italian. After angry phone calls, Chadzingwa stepped in once more to get it released.”
Chadzingwa reportedly visited the Forbes border “on a fact-finding mission” after the Auxillia Mnangagwa incident.
A ZIMRA spokesman said they would not be commenting.