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Jonathan Moyo fights ‘false’ rape allegations by modelling agency boss

Former cabinet minister Jonathan Moyo on Monday pushed back against “false and outrageous” allegations that he raped a former model and beauty pageant organiser over a decade ago.

State media reported claims by Sipho Mazibuko who said she was “sexually abused” by Moyo but was “too scared to even report or tell anyone until that fateful day 11 years ago when I went and told the police at Bulawayo Central Police Station.”

Mazibuko has previously alleged some form of sexual abuse by up to half-a-dozen cabinet ministers, government officials and businessmen.

She claimed that “nothing was done to investigate my case” and “till today my docket died a natural death.”

Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi on Monday said he was not aware Moyo had been investigated over “sexual abuse”. “Now we are checking with Bulawayo to find out if there was such a report,” he said.

“At no time in my life did any police officer anywhere in Zimbabwe engage me on these false and outrageous allegations. Also, I never had any direct or indirect involvement with Mrs Mazibuko’s psychiatric care,” Moyo tweeted on Monday, referring to her claims that “the same men” she accused of abusing her “made sure my admission to hospital was turned into a media curse, I was made a fool.”

“I empathise with Sipho Mazibuko’s situation,” Moyo added, accusing the editor of the Herald newspaper and “his handlers” of “exploiting” the model agency boss who was diagnosed with a bipolar disorder in 2011.

The one-time information minister who fled Zimbabwe in 2017 during a military coup added: “For the record, I never spent a second of my life with Sipho Mazibuko alone. Specifically, I was not a minister 11 years ago and I never saw nor spoke to her then.”

Moyo, now living in exile in Kenya, claimed the allegations were a hatchet job by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime which is desperate to silence him on Twitter, where he has become a vocal opponent of his former cabinet colleague who seized power with the help of the military.

The former minister said he was being goaded by a Twitter account called ‘FriendsOfEDMnangagwa’ (@FriendsED), claiming this was proof there was “Mnangagwa’s dirty hands in this.”

Mazibuko was sectioned under the Mental Health Act in 2011 when she caused a scene at the Bulawayo Central Police Station. She went there with a list of men she claimed had sexually assaulted her, but police got concerned with her erratic behaviour.

The list included Moyo, former ministers Obert Mpofu, Walter Mzembi and Francis Nhema as well as the then Zimbabwe Tourism Authority boss Karikoga Kaseke, who called her “mad”. The allegations remain unproven.

Mazibuko stripped at the police station and demanded that she be provided “five male virgins” to celebrate her birthday, according to one reporter who was present at the time.

Police took her to Ingutsheni Hospital in Bulawayo where she was given the bipolar diagnosis. Some of the symptoms exhibited by bipolar patients include delusion, anger, aggression, depression, self-harm and excess desire for sex.

The Miss Rural pageant founder previously admitted attempting to commit suicide and blamed her divorce from lawyer Ndabezinhle Mazibuko for her breakdown.

“There was a time I attempted suicide,” she told The Chronicle last August. “I won’t mention using what, but I did try. Fortunately, I failed. At the same time, I was having personal problems and these led to a divorce. When I was thinking and going through these problems, I felt like exploding and the divorce made it worse.”

Mazibuko declined a request for an interview on Monday, and referred questions to two Bulawayo lawyers. One of those lawyers, Nomathemba Ndlovu of Women and Law Southern Africa, declined to answer our questions.

The Strides Modelling Agency boss has organised a string of pageants over the years including Miss Highlanders Football Club, Miss Teen Queen, Miss Bulawayo, Miss Winter, Summer Strides and Miss Rural.

Last December, she sent letters to potential sponsors asking for assistance in staging Miss Summer Strides in Bulawayo on December 12. In the letters, she said the event was a “national pageant which will be shown live on ZTV and ZBC online.” The minister for provincial affairs in Bulawayo, Judith Ncube, was guest of honour.

The Herald reported last week that Mazibuko is reviving Miss Rural, a controversial pageant which once saw her arrested, accused of failing to settle a hotel bill. The pageant has also been haunted by claims of sexual exploitation of contestants.

In 2007, current defence minister Oppah Muchinguri, then the minister of women’s affairs, called for Mazibuko to be investigated after she allegedly dumped Miss Rural contestants in Masvingo without bus fare. She in turn accused Kaseke of a conspiracy against her in a bid to take over the running of the pageant.

Mazibuko was arrested that year, accused of defrauding Rainbow Towers and Holiday Inn in Harare, but the two hotels later withdrew the charges.

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