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Mnangagwa's wife misses UN women's conference over 'visa complications'

by Staff reporter
20 Mar 2024 at 18:10hrs | Views
Leya Mnangagwa reading first lady Auxillia Mnangagwa's speech at a Zimbabwe event on the sidelines of a UN conference on women in New York on March 18, 2024. Looking on is senate president Mabel Chinomona, women's affairs minister Monica Mutsvangwa and Zimbabwe's ambassador to the US Albert Chimbindi
First lady Auxillia Mnangagwa failed to attend a United Nations conference on women's rights this week after what has been described as "visa complications", ZimLive reported.

The 68th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women opened on March 11 in New York and ends on March 22.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa's wife had been due to speak at a side event on March 18 but her daughter-in-law Leya Travis-Mnangagwa, married to Emmerson Junior, read her speech instead. Leya is a director at the first lady's Angel of Hope Foundation.

The United States embassy did not respond to a request for comment, but diplomatic sources claimed that the foreign ministry submitted visa applications late for Zimbabwean delegates, including the first lady and female provincial ministers.

"I understand there were visa complications with late submission of applications," one western diplomat told ZimLive.

Women's affairs minister Monica Mutsvangwa, her permanent secretary Mavis Sibanda and senate president Mabel Chinomona however travelled.

The visa snub has fueled speculation that the United States was getting even after four officials from its development agency USAID were detained and kicked out of the country last month, accused of spying.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Brenda Lee Pearson, Norma Kriger, Sarah Logan and Loretta Bass were "subject to aggressive handling, prolonged interrogation and intimidation, unsafe and forced nighttime transportation, overnight detention and confinement, and forced removal from the country."

Miller added: "The government of Zimbabwe has said it wants to pursue international reengagement and democratic reforms. Its actions undermine those claims. We take the safety and security of U.S. citizens seriously and demand accountability from the government of Zimbabwe."

The United States earlier this month imposed an asset freeze and travel ban on President Mnangagwa and his wife under the Global Magnitsky Programme, accusing them of corruption and human rights abuses. But foreign leaders and their spouses subject to US sanctions are generally allowed to travel to the United Nations headquarters in New York which is considered international territory, although they may be subject to restrictions and monitoring.

In a March 19 post on X, the first lady said she was "invited as guest of honour at the Zimbabwe event on the sidelines of the 68th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York in recognition of my contribution to the empowerment of women and girls" as she also posted pictures of her daughter-in-law speaking at the event. She did not say why she did not attend.

Source - zimlive
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