Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe File picture: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

Harare - "Gucci’ Grace Mugabe is rumoured to have fled her opulent home in Harare – and her bed with its £200 000 (about R3,6 milion) diamond-studded headboard – for Namibia or South Africa.

But wherever the spendthrift spouse of Zimbabwe’s reviled leader rests her head from now on, it is unlikely to be anywhere too down at heel.

In years of plundering the country’s wealth, the couple acquired properties across the globe: from a castle in Scotland to a mansion in Malaysia, and palatial homes all over southern Africa. In all, Mugabe is thought to have around £1 billion of assets, much of it in secret accounts in the Channel Islands, Switzerland and the Bahamas.

His wife’s other sobriquets include the First Shopper and Dis-Grace. In London she would take a suite at Claridge’s then sweep through Harrods, trailed by bodyguards.

Read: Grace Mugabe has fled #Zimbabwe - report

She once spent £40 000 in an hour in the capital – and another £75 000 in a single Paris shopping spree. It would take the average Zimbabwean a lifetime to earn such sums.

Grace travelled in planes commandeered from the national airline, or in the Big Bunny – the DC-9 once owned by Playboy chief Hugh Hefner.

But where international spending sprees once defined her, in recent years she made no secret of her ambition to succeed her husband as president.

Also read: Robert Mugabe: Was Gucci Grace his undoing?

Mugabe to step down, Grace given 'safe haven' - security source

Born in South Africa, the former chicken seller was 20 and married when she landed a job as a typist at Mugabe’s state house in Harare.

At 41 years her senior, Mugabe was the hero of Zimbabwe’s independence struggle and they began an affair behind the back of his terminally ill wife, Sally.

Mugabe fathered two children with his secretary and, after Sally’s death, the couple married in a £2 million ceremony in 1996, in front of 40 000 people.

Mugabe was 73 when the couple had their third child.

Mail On Sunday