HARARE – Sulking former president Robert Mugabe and his unsettled wife Grace are refusing to remove their property, including furniture and other valuables, from State House — meaning that his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa still has no official residence, more than four months after the nonagenarian was booted out of power.
This comes as Grace has also made sensational claims — as the former first family desperately tries to mount a spirited resistance on all fronts — to the effect that some of their valued possessions such as laptops had been stolen from State House, also known as Zimbabwe House.
Mugabe’s 37 uninterrupted years in power were brought to an inglorious end when the military launched Operation Restore Legacy on November 15 last year, which saw the nonagenarian and his then influential wife being placed under house arrest.
Several Cabinet ministers linked to Zanu PF’s vanquished Generation 40 (G40) faction, who had coalesced around Grace, were also targeted in the operation which ended just before Christmas — with the military only retreating to their barracks after five weeks of executing the operation.
The annihilated G40, with the visible help of Mugabe and Grace, was — before the military intervention — locked in a bitter war with Mnangagwa and his supporters for control of both Zanu PF and the government.
But since his ascendancy to the throne, Mnangagwa still has to move into the official State residence — remaining at his relatively modest home in the northern suburbs of Harare, which security officials say is both unsafe and unsuitable for the country’s new leader.
Mnangagwa’s spokesperson, George Charamba, confirmed to the Daily News yesterday that Mugabe and his wife were taking their time to make way for the new sheriff in town.
“The last time I checked, president Mnangagwa was still to access Zimbabwe House, and the former president was still clearing his things from there,” he said.
On claims that some of the Mugabes’ property had gone missing, he said: “It’s not being suggested that a man who hasn’t taken occupancy of a State property is held responsible for items whose inventory is only known to the key-keeper who is taking his sweet time to clear?
“By the way, it’s interesting that the computer theft story has moved from Mazowe to Zimbabwe House. It is also interesting that a whole batch of donated computers were stolen a few years back during the former’s incumbency”.
Last week, Grace told the media that laptops and other valuables had been stolen from her Mazowe business hub during an invasion by artisanal miners looking for gold at the mineral-rich Smithfield Farm.
However, both the government and the miners have strongly disputed her claims — amid subsequent revelations that the former first family was embroiled in a messy dispute with three mining syndicates which had obtained an order from the High Court, compelling their Gushungo Dairies to leave the mining claim.
Mugabe and Grace own the debt-ridden company and also have extensive farming interests in the area.
Although Mugabe is refusing to remove his property from Zimbabwe House, in reality he vacated the mansion nearly 12 years ago when he decamped to his infamous Blue Roof mansion in Hellensvale — which the State later declared a protected area.
It was not immediately clear yesterday whether part of the property that he left behind at State House included possessions that he shared with his much-loved late first wife, Sarah “Sally” Francesca Heyfron.
In the meantime, Mnangagwa is said to have expressed reservations about moving into Zimbabwe House, amid allegations of superstition — although this was dismissed outright as “hogwash” by Charamba.
In December last year, Mnangagwa’s special advisor Christopher Mutsvangwa also indicated that although Mnangagwa would depart from many of “the policies and practices” that were followed by Mugabe, he would not abandon Zimbabwe House.
“That’s where State power is … The president (Mnangagwa) is going to move in there. This is his designated place of rule. I wouldn’t know when he will move in, but he will move in soon,” Mutsvangwa said then.
Mugabe has been at loggerheads with Mnangagwa’s administration ever since the 94-year-old broke his silence over his stunning ouster. He has also complained about the manner in which he lost power, as well as the alleged harassment that he is suffering at the hands of the new authorities.
Mugabe has also complained bitterly to the African Union that Mnangagwa’s government is allegedly not treating him well — including through the supposed withholding of some of the eye-watering benefits that he was promised when he fell from power.
Lately, his former allies have also made desperate distress calls to both sitting and former heads of state on the continent, on fears that the government may arrest the nonagenarian and his unhinged wife over growing allegations that he engaged in myriad criminal activities while in power.
Grace is already under serious police investigation after being implicated in the smuggling of the country’s ivory stocks, with several other ongoing probes said to be targeting the former first lady in the offing.
While it has not been publicly confirmed, the Daily News has it on good authority that Mugabe has been personally assured of his immunity from prosecution for all the crimes that he may have committed during his tenure in office.
However, it is believed that this blanket immunity does not cover the much-disliked Grace who made many enemies both within and without Zanu PF while her husband was in power. – Daily News