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Zimbabwe: Official Accused of Diamond Smuggling Dies

May 29, 2007 3:49 PM   By Zach Helke
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RAPAPORT... Zimbabwe’s principal director in the Ministry Without Portfolio Cde William Nhara, passed away May 28, 2007 in St. Anne’s Hospital in Harare, according to state media.

The 46-year-old had just been granted ZIM5 million bail to seek treatment for his ailing kidneys. As reported by Rapaport News, Nhara was arrested along with Carole Georges El Martni of Lebanon on March 1, after unsuccessfully bribing a detective with $700. Nhara was allegedly trying to help Martni board a flight for Dubai with some 10,700 carats in illicit rough.

Since his arrest, he was exempted several times from court appearances due to long term chronic kidney problems, and was finally granted bail in order to seek medical treatment before his trial, which was scheduled for mid-June.

Mourners are intending to bury him at his home in Chivi, Zimbabwe, on May 30.

Nhara was a Zanu-PF spokesperson with a distinguished career in public service, having served as executive director of the Southern African Institute for Democracy and Good Governance from 2000 until taking his post in 2005. Before this he held various positions in civil service, as a research assistant, social welfare officer, field research supervisor, and senior administrative officer in the International Organizations Department for Africa and Middle East in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The chief secretary to the president and cabinet, Dr. Misheck Sibanda, said that he had learned of the death of his colleague with great sadness. Sibanda said that Nhara was a long-serving member of the civil service and his loss would be felt by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the diplomatic corps, as well as the Office of the President and Cabinet.

While the secretary recognized the controversial allegations his colleague faced, he nevertheless offered his “"deepest condolences” to the Nhara family on behalf of the Presidency.

"In spite of the allegations he faced at the time of his death, William was a committed patriot at heart, one who devoted his time and skills to defending his country and people, both at home and abroad,” the secretary said. This salutary side of him will be instructive to many in the Public Service.”

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