Government last night dispatched four Cabinet ministers to the Harare International Airport to receive 32 victims of the over 200 Zimbabwean women who fell victim to human trafficking in Kuwait.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Observers said the move by government to have all four ministers at the airport appeared to be an attempt at saving face after it failed on its constitutional obligation to protect its citizens.
The government last week came under fire after reports that it failed to raise $12 000 to bring home the stranded women who had been holed up at the residence of Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Kuwait for weeks after their escape from their captors.
Addressing a press conference at the airport, Speaker of National Assembly Jacob Mudenda said the 32 women who arrived aboard Emirates Airlines had brought nothing but their bodies back to Zimbabwe.
“They had to escape; so let me tell you that they brought nothing but their bodies back home since they had to escape from their employers, leaving everything behind in Kuwait,” he said.
Mudenda, who was in the company of Health minister David Parirenyatwa, Foreign Affairs minister, Samuel Mumbengegwi, Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira and Women’s minister Nyasha Chikwinya, said the women had been taken to a safe house where they would undergo psychological evaluation and health screening before being released to their families.
The women were secretly whisked away from the airport, with government appealing to the media to respect their privacy. One of the women is reportedly pregnant.
Businessman Wicknell Chivayo reportedly bailed out the cash-strapped government by paying $12 000 for air tickets to bring back the women.
However, Mumbengegwi claimed that by the time Chivayo bought the tickets, government had already secured 25 tickets to bring back the women.
“The government of Zimbabwe takes its responsibility seriously to protect its citizens and by the time we got aid from Chivayo and Philip Chiyangwa, we had already secured 25 tickets for the girls. So if that’s not being serious enough, I don’t know what is,” he said.
Mumbengegwi said government had assisted nearly 40 women to return back home from Kuwait, although this has not been publicised.