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Robert Mugabe’s Daughter Used State Land Intended For A School For Her Elaborate, Chinese-built Mansion – Report

Bona Mugabe, 27, is building on a site sliced out of a picturesque hillside which has a created a scar visible for miles in countryside near her parents’ estate.

The property is a tiny part of the vast Grace Mugabe property portfolio uncovered by a Telegraph investigation.

The case exemplifies long standing questions about the Mugabe family’s use of Zimbabwean state resources for their personal benefit and enrichment – and whether the resulting property empire will survive Robert Mugabe’s fall from power.

Bona Mugabe house under construction in Glen Lorne, near Borrowdale, Harare

The Telegraph can reveal that Bona Mugabe’s new mansion is being built on state-owned land that was due to be transferred to the Harare city council. The land is being guarded by police from the presidential office, and city councillors believe rates due to the municipality in which it sits are overdue – depriving the city of much needed revenue.

Conspicuous enrichment of the first family and other senior members of Zanu-PF, the ruling party, was one of the main grievances that contributed to Mr Mugabe’s downfall earlier this month.

But more than a week after his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was sworn into the office, there seems little appetite to review how they came by this wealth.

Bona Mugabe is seen after the MDIS-University of Wales graduation ceremony in Singapore in 2013

So far, only one minister and two party members have been charged with wrongdoing.

They include Ignatius Chombo, Mr Mugabe’s last finance minister, who was for 15 years previously local government minister.

Records held by the City Of Harare show that he misappropriated land belonging to the city for his own and the ruling party’s benefit, according to Rusty Markham, a city councillor for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Party.

Human rights groups have expressed concern about Mr Chombo’s treatment. He has described being kidnapped at gunpoint on the night of the coup and held incommunicado for nearly a week before appearing in court.

And some opposition leaders fear that the former finance minister is being used as a scapegoat so that the alleged corruption of other influential figures, including that of Mrs Mugabe, will not be investigated.

“The law should take its course, in court,” said Eldred Masunungure, a political scientist from the University of Zimbabwe.

“We are hoping any legal process in this matter will not fall victim to political machinations by the new powers-that-be.”

The allegations include claims the Mugabes used state funds to bankroll unprofitable farms they took over during the land seizures of the early 2000s, and that the family took foreign currency from the national treasury to fund personal trips abroad.

Then there is the question of how a number of lavish property acquisitions were funded.

The hillside mansion under construction on the Umwinsidale Road on the outskirts of Harare is a case in point.

Many tonnes of virgin bush were blasted out the side and top of the hill to create an access road and a flat area for foundations for the residence for Bona Mugabe and her husband, Simba Chikore, 40. The dynamite shook windows five miles away.

Neighbours said the couple first showed up on the land on which they are building in June and construction on the home began in October – just a month before the coup that ousted Mr Mugabe.

The Telegraph has not seen the bill for construction. But it was clearly an ambitious and expensive project.

The police officers on duty when the Telegraph visited the site said the “Chinese builders” had left at the start of the soft coup, and their equipment, including bulldozers, earth movers, and cranes had also been withdrawn.

The police confirmed that they were guarding the property for Bona Mugabe and her husband Simba Chikore, 40. The couple did not respond to requests to comment placed with Mr Chikore’s Harare office and his personal assistant. Mr Chikore did not answer calls to his Dubai mobile phone.

“This was City of Harare land. Planning years ago was that a school would have been built on this site. It is a mystery how this couple landed up with this property” said Mr Markham.

He said many knew that Bona Mugabe and her husband were building on this property and that rates and taxes on the property were overdue.

“So much development of the city collapsed because it is bankrupt after years of interference by the ministers of local government who have given so much state and city land to their contacts.”

Next door to the Umwinsidale Road site is a property bought recently by Mrs Mugabe for about £1m from Abe Smit, a hunter who has moved to western Zimbabwe. Mr Smit declined to discuss the sale of his property.

Mrs Mugabe bought another, much larger property of more than 120 acres in a nearby street last year for about £3.5 million. Months later she bought a mansion in Johannesburg for about the same price.

The Telegraph understands she was negotiating a fresh purchase in the area on the morning of November 14, just hours before soldiers rolled into Harare and placed her and her husband under house arrest.

The property is also adjacent to about 850 acres of urban land illegally seized from Andrew Newmarch, a white landowner, at the height of land invasions in 2000.

This burgeoning luxury is in stark contrast with the degradation many ordinary people have suffered in recent years.

A few miles from the Mugabes’ property empire is the suburb of Hatcliffe, which has more than doubled in size since a campaign of home demolitions by police and army in 2005 that the UN claimed left a million people – most of them supporters of the opposition MDC – homeless.

Mr Chombo handed vast tracts of land within the suburb to “land barons,” who then rented plots out to poor people without any urban planning or improvements, and do not pay council tax.

The result is a sprawling slum without clean running water or sanitation.

“The city is bankrupt, will probably always be bankrupt. Thanks to Chombo, only a quarter of the properties here pay rates,” said Mr Markham.

Grace Mugabe did not respond to messages and calls to a mobile number she often uses.

The Telegraph communicated the details of Mrs Mugabe’s acquisitions in this part of Harare to a senior Zanu-PF MP, who said he had not known about the purchases.



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