Willowvale gave its name to the 1988-89 "Willowgate" scandal, in which government officials were using their positions to purchase foreign automobiles from a Willowvale car company and then reselling them at high profits. The sales were exposed by Chronicle editors Geoffrey Nyarota and Davison Maruziva in a series of investigative reports, and led to a national scandal and commission of inquiry. A provincial governor and five ministers of the government of President Robert Mugabe resigned, one of whom, Maurice Nyagumbo, committed suicide.
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