By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent
AN ASPIRING Kariba MP Stanley Kauso was arrested in South Africa recently for attempting to help a Zimbabwean woman smuggle out boxes of cough syrup, Broncleer.
The cough remedy, commonly known as Bronco, is abused by youths as a drug and is among illegal substances blamed for moral decadence and deaths among local teenagers and young adults in Zimbabwe.
The politician, who will contest the Kariba parliamentary seat in the 2023 elections, opened up to NewZimbabwe.com Monday over his recent arrest, which has threatened his thriving transport logistics business.
He said the transport company was the main source of funding for his grand election campaign.
Kauso said his arrest and detention had also posed a threat to prospects of renewing his work permit had he been dragged to court and convicted.
However, he regrets ever dealing with Harare-based pharmacist, Chipo Ngairongwe, whose 'unsanctioned' Broncleer consignment landed him in trouble, alongside his driver only identified as Johnson.
"l only got to know Chipo Ngairongwe through a friend when they came to visit me at my Polokwane residence some two months back," he said.
"Weeks after, she asked for help to have her household goods ferried from Swaziland, where she used to work, to Zimbabwe."
Ngairongwe's furniture and other goods were then delivered to Harare with Kauso's help.
Thereafter, the pharmacist, again, requested Kauso to smuggle 25 x 30 litres of paint, which he facilitated through his vast connections among haulage truck drivers.
"I facilitated all this but didn't get anything out of it, and shockingly a fortnight ago she phoned again asking if l could help assist transport Broncleer boxes to Zimbabwe, to which l agreed grudgingly. I felt she was abusing our friendship," Kauso further told NewZimbabwe.com.
When the truck driver delivering the Broncleer consignment arrived in Polokwane the 100 boxes were offloaded at Kauso's residence and he kept them for days waiting for Ngairongwe, who was Harare, to organise another truck to ferry the 'contraband' into Zimbabwe.
"When she finally sent a driver who was en-route from Johannesburg to Zimbabwe, l was out in the bush somewhere called Thavazimbi making follow-ups on my fleet of trucks that transport cement.
"Therefore, l instructed one of my drivers Johnson to get a bakkie (small truck) and load the Broncleer boxes and hand them over to this person sent by Ngairongwe. I then gave them each other's numbers so they could communicate since l was away."
"Hours later, l was shocked to receive a distress call from Ngairongwe accusing my men of having caused his errand man's arrest. She then went into a tirade accusing me of stealing her stuff.
"I was so disturbed by the accusations that l immediately returned to Polokwane to get to the bottom of the matter."
Kauso was spotted and arrested by SAPS officers while parked outside the police station inside his vehicle making phone calls.
The cops accused him of trying to smuggle Broncleer.
"I spent two nights in police custody and had to bribe the police officers to be released from custody. Also, had a docket been opened it would mean the police had to take my fingerprints, then go to the court where there were chances of conviction," said Kauso.
He said a criminal record would also dash hopes of renewing his work permit in the neighbouring country.
The aspiring parliamentarian says what hurt him most was Ngairongwe, who claims her Broncleer consignment is 'clean', is refusing to provide relevant documentation to facilitate the consignment's release.
Ngairongwe, who alleges Kauso stole the medicine worth over R200 000, has also reportedly declined an offer for an airplane ticket to fly to South Africa to face police authorities who confiscated the boxes.
In the heat of the haggling, Ngairongwe has launched an attack on Kauso on Kariba WhatsApp groups, where she is decampaigning Kauso calling him a 'thief'.
Contacted for comment by NewZimbabwe.com Tuesday, a temperamental Ngairongwe insisted Kauso connived with corrupt South African police and has failed to provide the docket number, arresting police officers' names and the station, implying the businessman was never arrested nor a docket opened.
Asked if she was not on a campaign to discredit Kauso, Ngairongwe reiterated she was not out to scuttle his bid to land the Kariba constituency seat, but only wanted to recover her goods.
"I have never been a political person. I have nothing against Stanley Kauso that l should be ruining his career to be an MP. I am actually one of the people who would help his campaign, but l am not into politics.
"I am a very level-headed person and l wouldn't want to jeopardise his ambition to be an MP in any way. The only thing l want from him is to release my consignment and that's it," Ngairongwe said.
Kauso will contest 2023 polls under the banner of the newly-formed Zimbabwe African National Congress (ZANC) in his bid to dislodge MDC Alliance's John Houghton, who is the sitting Kariba lawmaker.
Timothy Mncube is the leader of ZANC and is expected to contest in the presidential election.