Tawanda Marwizi/Xolisani Ncube
Throughout his political career, Robert Mugabe outfoxed his rivals both within and outside his party. His long rule was a subject of discussion and how he managed to beat his enemies always kept his name a centre of discussion.
It is for such reasons the late ruler’s name made it to the list of the most notable deaths of 2019 across the globe.
When he died, his divisive character followed him to the grave after the family, allegedly following his instructions, refused the government’s honour to have the founding Zimbabwean leader buried at the National Hero’s Acre.
They opted to bury him at his rural home in Zvimba.
Now the controversies that dogged his 37 year reign are not ending anytime soon, with the list of his properties that was availed by the family being the new question and topic for discussion.
Mugabe died in Singapore on September 6 this year after battling prostate cancer for at least 13 years.
Hundreds of Zimbabweans and relatives have questioned the listed properties submitted as his estate to the courts and the family’s rather shocking claims that they failed to locate an inheritance will.
With seven academic degrees and a well-travelled history under his belt, the claim that he had no will penned down on how his properties would be distributed raises more questions.
It’s either Mugabe thought he was immortal or he loved his life after departure to be a centre of controversy just as it was when he was alive.
Or, the Mugabe family is playing a propaganda card to portray the late president as a socialist both in words and deeds.
The properties declared by the late veteran nationalist’s first daughter Bona Nyepudzai Mutsahuni-Chikore, who was appointed executor, include House Number 129 Forbes, Road, Waterfalls, Villa Number 65, Gunhill, Harare, Number 27 Quorn Avenue, Mt Pleasant, Lot GB Helensvale and Lot 1 of subdivision B of Sub G of Helensvale, Highfield Farm, Zvimba rural farming plot (about 5 acres) Zvimba rural home (one hectare) Zvimba orchard (about five acres), 10 cars and US$10 million in a CBZ Bank Nostro account.
Mugabe’s widow ,Grace, was listed as the sole surviving spouse while Bona, Robert, Bellarmine and Russel Goreraza were listed as Mugabe’s surviving children.
Commentators, social analysts and ordinary citizens have been left puzzled by the list submitted by the family.
Among the properties that had been linked to Mugabe but not listed on the estate included a two-storey house in Hong Kong valued at HK$40 million (US$5.1 million) which the local media there claimed the Zimbabwean government paid Hsieh Ping-sung to buy it on Mugabe’s behalf in June 2008.
According to a 2001 US diplomatic cable, later released by the whistle-blowing organisation WikiLeaks, Mugabe had about $1.75 billion-worth of assets, mostly invested outside Zimbabwe.
But the assets tabled with the Master of the High Court do not include most of these properties.
It is also believed that his assets “include everything from secret accounts in Switzerland, the Channel Islands and the Bahamas to castles in Scotland”. But this was however never confirmed while evidence to show that he actually did own the properties was never produced.
Could Robert Mugabe have been so careless to die without a will?
Some people said the family could be hiding some of the wealth accumulated by the man who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years.
Sources close to the family said a section of relatives believe there are some properties outside the country that are not on the list.
“Generally there is a feeling among relatives that some properties that are outside the country have been left out to avoid a public outcry.
“Some, that include his nephews who were close to him, are in support of Grace saying those were the only few properties left by the former statesman,” source a source.
Mugabe’s rein was marred by severe corruption allegations. Grace’s lavish life that includes her shopping spree in countries like Malaysia and Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, just to mention a few, opened up to a belief that the former first family was rich.
Grace made headlines for buying a ring worth US$1.2 million, just among other things.
Mugabe, who used to gobble millions of dollars on his birthdays that were popularly known as 21st February Movement Celebrations, got several gifts in form of domestic animals and cash.
Analyst Eldred Masunungure said it was impossible for Mugabe who was known for his lavish life to leave very few properties.
“It might be impossible for Mugabe to leave such properties. I am sure the family have their reasons to keep such information away from the public.
“I am sure as time goes on the public will be privileged to get some of the information,” he said.
However, when asked about Mugabe’s property outside the country family lawyer Terrance Hussein challenged those who know about these to show them.
“It is up to those who allege that Mugabe had properties outside the country to prove as far as we know this is what we have so far although we continue to search for other asserts which could have been ommited.
“For your own information the three houses on the list are those that were held in the name of Zanu PF and the transfer process is not yet complete. The vehicles are old vintage cars not your latest state of the art type” he said.
With the latest coming from Mugabe’s ever controversial issues, one would just wonder whether the world would ever get enough from his legacy.