The Mugabe family has a multi-million-dollar empire built around numerous farms, prime real estate, various businesses and lucrative tenders which they wrested for self-aggrandisement.
The family also benefitted heavily directly and indirectly from public funds during Mugabe’s endless globe-trotting trips.
On some occasions the family used public funds to acquire private assets.
By mid-year, Mugabe had overspent on travel by US$23 million. His budget was US$30, but he spent US$53 million on largely futile foreign trips. Overall, his office had a US$43 million budget overrun.
Investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent show that Mugabe’s wife Grace used to siphon millions during the trips.
“On one occasion this year, for instance, his wife took about US$3,5 million during a foreign trip,” a senior Treasury official said this week. “There is also another example; the money used to buy their mansion in Sandhurst, Sandton, Johannesburg in South Africa came from public funds through local banks. At one point Grace also demanded that Patrick Chinamasa (who was Finance minister and still is) buys cars for her and he had to find the money.
These are just a few examples, but there was a pattern or systematic looting of public funds. Ministry of Finance and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe officials know this.”
Sources close to the family told the Independent that while Mugabe and Grace still remain holed up in their Blue Roof mansion in Harare, their children have been scattered by the political upheavals which engulfed Zimbabwe recently leading to their dramatic loss of power.
The sources said Mugabe’s step son, Russel Goreraza, who is Grace’s first child with her former husband and hence the former president’s step son, is the only one who is still in Harare.
Their daughter Bona, son-in-law Simba Chikore and grandson Simbanashe left for Malaysia on Friday last week. Bona is said to be expecting her second child. Mugabe’s party-loving boys Robert Junior and Bellarmine Chatunga are staying at their affluent Sandhurst mansion. In fact, they have two properties there and were contemplating buying another one.
Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao (pictured) is also holed up in Johannesburg after failing to return home from a trip to Argentina in the aftermath of the military takeover. His family members have reportedly joined him in South Africa.
Although Mugabe and Grace appear to be quiet in the public domain, the former First Lady has been complaining behind-the-scenes about how her family and the families of her allies have been treated. She has also been complaining about threats to her businesses and property, citing the terms of agreement secretly reached as part of the deal for Mugabe to resign.
Informed sources said Grace has been relaying her complaints and protests to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantino Chiwenga mainly through mediators, Catholic cleric Father Fidelis Mukonori and former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono.