Zimbabwe

REVEALED: Mugabe 'paying half a million dollars in yearly rentals for a villa in Dubai'

2017-01-22 15:30
President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace. (File: AFP)

President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace. (File: AFP)

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Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's lavish spending has been exposed in his wife's court battle with a Lebanese tycoon over a botched $1.35m diamond ring deal.

New court documents filed by businessman Jamal Ahmed opposing First Lady Grace Mugabe's move to seek to overturn a provisional order against her, showed that the Mugabe family was paying half a million dollars in yearly rentals for a villa in Dubai.

Grace Mugabe torched a storm recently when she demanded a refund of $1.35m that she paid to Ahmed for a diamond ring after Ahmed allegedly failed to deliver it on time. The ring was meant to be Mugabe's gift to Grace on their wedding anniversary.

She "demanded a full refund in Dubai". 

Following the deal that went sour, Grace allegedly grabbed Ahmed's properties, resulting in the High Court ordering the First Lady to vacate the seized houses. Grace was now challenging the court order.

In her opposing affidavit recently, Grace denied that she wanted the money to be transferred into her account in Dubai. She maintained that she did not hold a foreign account.

'Exclusive and upmarket area'

But Ahmed insisted that it would be impossible for the First Lady not to have a bank account in Dubai, as the first family rented a villa that required monthly rentals to be paid through a bank.

"Whether or not the second respondent (Grace) has accounts outside Zimbabwe does not mean she did not ask for a refund in Dubai.

"The second respondent's family rents a 10-bedroom villa at the Emirates Hills in Dubai and the address of the villa is J11. I am able to say that this is an exclusive and upmarket area where annual rentals are around $500 000.

This came at a time when most Zimbabweans were battling worsening cash shortages, a floundering economy and high unemployment.

Mugabe, who was currently on vacation in the Far East, was reportedly spending $36m during his month-long annual leave that was interspersed with official business.

His huge expenditure also came at a time when health authorities required only $250 000 to contain a typhoid outbreak in some parts of the country. The outbreak had so far claimed at least nine lives, according to health officials.

'Personal fiefdom'

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai criticised Mugabe, saying the nonagenarian should use that money to develop Zimbabwe instead of spending it abroad.

One of Tsvangirai's deputies, Nelson Chamisa, accused Mugabe of not having Zimbabwe at his heart.

"Mr Mugabe, why can't we make Zimbabwe like Dubai or Singapore or Malaysia, so that we and others the world over may also feel and enjoy the comfort and edification of visiting our God-given beautiful Zimbabwe?" asked Chamisa.

"Mr Mugabe, remember you can't be a president without a country. Instead of running the country you have elected to run it down," Chamisa further charged.

Another MDC official, Spokesperson Obert concurred, adding that Mugabe had long "privatized" the State.

"Mugabe takes Zimbabwe as his own personal fiefdom. It's incredulous how a bankrupt government like the Zanu-PF regime can afford to pay $500 000 annual rentals for Mugabe's villa in the Middle East.

'Luxurious lifestyle'

"Mugabe has always liked to lead a luxurious lifestyle whilst the majority of Zimbabweans continue to wallow in poverty. He is a heartless man, just like most dictators the world over. The last thing to bother him is the welfare of the ordinary Zimbabwean," Gutu said.

Meanwhile, a pressure group calling itself #Tajamuka said it would use Mugabe's lavish spending revelations to bolster its court case in which it wanted the country's constitutional court to declare the veteran leader unfit to continue leading Zimbabwe.

The social movement, together with other pro-democracy groups, led a series of anti-Mugabe protests, including a two-day national mass stay-away that paralysed government business and the transport sector last year.

"Mugabe has become so irresponsible that he no longer knows what he is doing. He should resign immediately," said #Tajamuka leader Promise Mkwananzi.

'Large number of businesses'

"We are making a supplementary affidavit to our constitutional application on this issue as proof that he is now completely unfit to continue as President."

Many Zimbabweans questioned where the Mugabe family was getting the huge sums of money.

Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba was not immediately available for comment as his mobile phone was not being answered. However, a cabinet minister who requested not to be named told News24 that Mugabe and his family had "a larger number of businesses in Zimbabwe" and could be using proceeds from those businesses to finance his lavish lifestyle.

Mugabe's family grabbed multiple farms during Zimbabwe's chaotic land reforms in most parts of the country but most of them were derelict.


Read more on:    mdc  |  zanu-pf  |  grace mugabe  |  morgan tsvangirai  |  nelson chamisa  |  robert mugabe  |  george charamba  |  obert gutu  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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