The family of the late former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has appointed his daughter, Bona Mugabe-Chikore, as the executor of his estate amid the conspicuous absence of the late politician’s sons during the administration of the estate at the Harare High Court on Thursday.
Unlike South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela who wrote a will in 2004 and amended it in 2008 with instructions to distribute at least US$4,1 million to his family, staff, the ruling African National Congress and former schools, the late Zimbabwean strongman, who died September 6TH in Singapore after a long battle with prostate cancer, did not write a will, according to his family.
Mugabe was toppled in a defacto military coup in November 2017 having ruled the country since independence in 1980.
The Mugabe family lawyer, Terrence Hussein, told VOA Zimbabwe Service that the other children are outside the country but had given written consent that Bona should be appointed executor as per Zimbabwean laws since the late leader did not leave a will.
Former first lady, Grace Mugabe, attended the meeting with the Master of the High Court Eldard Mutasa.
Hussein said, “This is a normal meeting that happens after the death of a person. It is called by the Master of the High Court, and it is called an edict meeting. In that meeting the master sets out the guidelines and parameters of how the estate will be run. He will also appoint an executor who would then do the business of stepping into the shoes of the deceased person and then apportioning how their estate would be wound up and who the beneficiaries will be and how much they will get.”
Hussein confirmed that though Bona had submitted the provisional list of some of the assets left behind by her father, it is going to be a long process. The late president is said to have left behind assets that include US$10 million in cash, 10 cars, a farm, three houses and several housing stands.
Reached by VOA Zimbabwe, Bona Chikore simply said, “No comment.” Other family sources are claiming that the money Mugabe left is only US$7 million.
Former first lady Grace Mugabe is listed as the sole surviving spouse, while Bona, Robert Junior, Bellarmine Chatunga and Russel Gorereza are listed as the surviving children. Russel is the late president’s stepson from the Mrs. Mugabe’s first marriage to Stanley Goreraza.
WHERE ARE MUGABE’S BILLIONS?
A leaked diplomatic cable from the American embassy in Harare in 2001 published by WikiLeaks, a website that functions as a clearinghouse for classified or state secrets, said unverified assets linked to Mugabe amounted to more than US$1 billion in Zimbabwe and overseas.
The cable read: “The full extent of President Mugabe’s assets are unknown, but are rumored to exceed US$1 billion in value, the majority of which are likely invested outside Zimbabwe. Inside Zimbabwe, the bulk of Mugabe’s assets are reported to be in the form of real property -- he and his wife have six residences, including a multi-story mansion still under construction in Harare, in addition to a number of farms around the country.”
A lawsuit filed in Singapore also provided a small glimpse into the wealth of the Mugabe’s. A villa was bought in 2008 by a company called Cross Global and sold in 2010 to a Taiwanese-born South African Hsieh Ping Sung believed to have been a one-time Mugabe confidant and front. The Mugabes sued both Cross Global and Hsieh in 2014 claiming ownership, arguing in court papers that the businessman was just a front. The Mugab’s also admitted to buying another house in neighboring South Africa.
When Washington and the European Union imposed targeted sanctions on him, Mugabe openly challenged them to seize any of his assets outside, saying he had none. Mrs. Mugabe also told party supporters in 2015 that her husband was a man of little means who was just passionate about the suffering of Zimbabweans.
BLUE ROOF MANSION
The Mugabes’ most prized asset is the so-called Blue Roof Mansion located in Borrowdale Brooke, Harare. A then Yugoslavia-based company, Energoproject, constructed the 25-bedroomed house. The architectural design is Chinese. In 1999, the ruling Zanu-PF party bought the 12-hactare plot and donated it to Mugabe for his retirement home. The Mugabes later bought out and forced out some five families at adjacent properties to construct the mansion.
When Mugabe died, it emerged that the property was still listed in the name of the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Zanu-PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu, who once threatened to turn the house into a museum, told VOA Zimbabwe Service that the property is now being transferred to the family.
“The latest is that the Blue Roof is being transferred to the late president's family. The process started a few weeks ago and I am sure by now it’s almost concluded or it’s about to be concluded.”
Hussein also confirmed the pending transfer. “I do understand that that process is in the pipeline. I don't believe it's completed yet but I do understand that it is in the pipeline and it is being attended to.”
Constitutional law expert and University of Zimbabwe law Professor, Lovemore Madhuku, says Mrs. Mugabe under Zimbabwe’s inheritance laws is entitled to the mansion.
“The asset that is called the matrimonial home means where he was staying with his wife, that one is taken by the spouse. If the spouse was married, in this case we know that she was married in terms of the Marriage Act, she would get the matrimonial house. Therefore, if the matrimonial home is the Blue Roof, then that means it goes to Mrs. Grace Mugabe.
“Even those who are married under customary law, every surviving wife gets the assets belonging to them in terms of where they were staying. If it is a matrimonial home. The rest of the properties are shared. So even if there is no will, the matrimonial home is a very straightforward distribution of assets.”
MUGABE MULTIPLE FARM OWNER
According to the papers submitted to the High Court, the Mugabe family says he owned only one farm, Highfield Farm in Norton, south of the capital Harare, that he bought commercially. But government sources have linked him to more than 10 farms namely: Gushungo Estates (4 046 hectares) in Mazowe; Gushungo Dairies (1 000 hectares); Iron Mask Estate in Mazowe (1 046 hectares); Sigaru Farm in Mazowe (873 hectares); Gwebi Wood (1 200 hectares) in Mazowe; Gwina Farm in Mazowe (1 445 hectares); Leverdale Farm in Banket (1 488 hectares);) and in Norton, they own Cressydale Estate (676 hectares); Tankatara Farm (575 hectares); John O’Groat Farm (760 hectares); Clifford Farm (1 050 hectares) and Bassiville (1 200 hectares), putting the land holding of Mugabe’s family to about 16 000 hectares.
Hussein though says Mugabe was a “modest man” and was not a multiple farm owner. Asked about the alleged multiple farms, “Well there again goes those myths - produce them (farms), show us that they were in his name. Show us that he was allocated them. Nobody is able to come forward with them. So once again, those are myths that were being peddled. But the good thing about it is the truth always prevails.”
Sources close to the former First Family though say some of the farms are listed in the names of his children and widow. Professor Madhuku says trying to tie those properties to the former President is difficult.
“Those are not the assets of President Mugabe. His assets are the assets that belong to him in terms of ownership. If an asset is registered in the name of someone else, then the presumption is that that other person is the owner. Those properties ought to not even be talked about; they should not even be addressed. If for example there is a farm, which is an immovable property registered in the name of someone else tied to a child or spouse that property belongs to that person. It's not his assets.”
Mrs. Mugabe, according to Madhuku, will also inherit the lion’s share of the properties.
However, the government is threatening to seize some of the farms saying it is going to implement a one-family-one-farm policy. Critics of the government say the policy is designed to target the former first lady who allegedly riled the government after refusing to have the late national hero to be interred at the National Heroes Acre in Harare - reserved for the country’s most illustrious individuals.
Though Mugabe’s close allies claim that he lived a modest life, his family is said to have secretly amassed vast wealth, with his widow and children owning Rolls Royces, Porsche and Range Rovers. The Mugabe family also has a stake in the struggling Gushungo Holdings, trading as Alpha Omega Dairy (Pvt Ltd).
Mrs. Mugabe also owns Amai Mugabe Junior School, a private school in Mazowe. The extent of the Mugabes’ wealth was also revealed in 2015 when the former first lady sued a Lebanese executive Jamal Joseph Ahmed.