Chihuri’s Mansion Acquired by Wicknell Chivayo

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HARARE — Self-exiled former Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri’s R130-million (US$7 million) mansion in Harare has been acquired by Wicknell Chivayo, a controversial businessman with close ties to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Chihuri, the only service chief aligned with the late former President Robert Mugabe during the 2017 coup, was arrested and later fled to Malawi. In 2020, Zimbabwe’s National Prosecuting Authority seized Chihuri’s property as part of an investigation into his alleged “unexplainable wealth.”

Allegations and Legal Battle

Chihuri disputed the allegations, claiming in court that his predicament stemmed from a personal feud with Mnangagwa over a woman, which he described as “politically targeted persecution” for not participating in the coup. Despite these accusations, Chihuri successfully reclaimed his palatial home in Harare’s Gletwyn suburb in 2022 after the state failed to prove that he had embezzled R600 million from the state.

New Ownership

The mansion, now owned by Chivayo, was recently refurbished by South African high-end firm Norman Bakos, with the renovations estimated to exceed R2 million. Chivayo’s legal representatives, Messrs Manase and Manase, instructed advocate Lewis Uriri to inform News24 that Chivayo is a beneficiary of a trust that purchased the property. Uriri stated:

“Mr. Chivayo is a beneficiary of the owner of the property, having purchased the same. The owner, whose title is being processed, is a trust that, for now, cannot be named.”

Chivayo’s Wealth and Influence

Chivayo, an ex-convict, has gained notoriety for his lavish lifestyle and generosity towards ZANU PF supporters. Ahead of the disputed August 2023 general elections, he distributed luxury vehicles, including Mercedes Benz, Toyota Hilux, and smaller cars such as the Toyota Aqua. His sudden wealth has attracted scrutiny, leading to investigations by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC).

In April, Chivayo was seen with Mnangagwa at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, where they hosted Kenya’s President William Ruto. Chivayo’s close association with high-profile figures continues to raise eyebrows.

Criminal Past

Chivayo’s criminal record includes a three-year jail term with labor, handed down in 2004 for theft by false pretenses involving R837,000. He was convicted of misrepresenting to Digby Sean Nesbitt that he had deposited the sum into Shane Peter Nesbitt’s bank account in South Africa in exchange for Z$37.6 million. Chivayo received the Z$37.6 million but failed to deposit the equivalent amount in Zimbabwean dollars, leading to his sentence at Chikurubi Maximum Prison.

The acquisition of Chihuri’s mansion by Chivayo, despite the latter’s controversial background and alleged ties to corruption, highlights the ongoing complexities and intrigues within Zimbabwe’s political and business spheres. The developments continue to draw public attention and concern, reflecting broader issues of governance and accountability in the country.