Spotlight glares on Mugabe's mansion

President Robert Mugabe is building a R72-million mansion for his retirement, but if Zimbabweans opposed to his rule get their way, he isn't going to be able to enjoy it.

Calls are growing for Mugabe to explain where he is getting the money from while his country wallows in poverty. Civic groups say that once Mugabe leaves office, they will leave no stone unturned until the source of the funding is uncovered.

The home costs 10 times more than the approximately R7-million he has been paid since becoming president 23 years ago.

It is being roofed with tiles from Shanghai and its interior decorations are coming from the Middle East.

Public pressure forced Mugabe's young wife, Grace, to sell a R4-million Harare mansion to the Libyans. It had been revealed that she had used resources drawn from a scheme meant to help lowly paid civil servants.

Mugabe's enormous project is now a major target of public anger.

John Makumbe, University of Zimbabwe political scientist and chairperson of the Zimbabwe chapter of the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, said: "Mugabe's salary has been made public. Everyone knows that it cannot build this kind of mansion."

"He (Mugabe) does not have any business assets which can generate the resources required to build such a home... He therefore has some serious explaining to do."

"He can afford to ignore us now because he is in power. Once he leaves office, it will be almost impossible for any post-Mugabe government to resist the pressure that we will bring to bear on it to investigate the source of Mugabe's wealth." - Independent Foreign Service


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