FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe, who has been on a spending spree on properties as she builds a vast empire around prime real estate in Mazowe, Borrowdale in Harare and Sandton in Johannesburg, South Africa, a few weeks ago splurged almost R6 million (about US$444 000) in cash on a brand new Rolls-Royce Ghost model, the Zimbabwe Independent has exclusively established.
By Bernard Mpofu
This comes after her son Russell Goreraza and his business partner Valentine Garacho, linked to the Mujuru family, imported seven top-of-the-range vehicles worth about US$2,5 million after brokering a controversial mining deal between government and a Kazakhstan company, Todal Mining, which owns platinum concessions between Shurugwi and Zvishavane.
The cars include two Rolls-Royce, two Range Rovers, two Mercedes-Benz S-Class and an Aston Martin.
Highly-networked sources told the Independent — the country’s leading business and investigative newspaper — this week that Grace bought a black Rolls-Royce, with a classy white interior early this month from Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in Sandton, Johannesburg, located on Laico Isle, 126 Rivonia Road. The car is parked at the basement of the car dealership just next to Radisson Blu Hotel.
“Grace sent someone to pay R5,8 million in cash for the car; a Rolls-Royce 2017 Ghost model. The car is currently parked in the basement of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars,” a source said.
“The other two Rolls-Royce that were bought by her son and his friend were also paid for in cash at the same garage before they were ferried to Zimbabwe without paying duty.”
Informed sources said Grace wants her luxurious car, which has a long wheelbase, to be registered in South Africa following a furore over Goreraza and Garacho’s luxury Rolls-Royce cars.
The sources said the car could only be brought into Zimbabwe using a temporary import permit.
The Rolls-Royce Ghost series, according to the South African dealership’s website, has a top speed of 250km/h. It is described as a car for those who desire sybaritic luxury and a spirited driving experience in the ultra-pricey motorcar.
Contacted for comment on her mobile phone, the First Lady’s spokesperson Olga Bungu requested for questions through text messages. Queries texted to her were, however, not responded to at the time of going to press.
Grace has been splurging millions of dollars despite the fact that her business empire under the Gushungo Holdings’ Alpha and Omega Dairies banner, is in the doldrums, incurring perennial losses since 2013.
President Robert Mugabe last year revealed his family acquired loans to recapitalise the struggling dairy business.
In January, the Independent reported the first family was paying US$500 000 per year for a property in Dubai where Robert Junior was at the time still based. Around April, Robert Jr unceremoniously left the rich emirate for South Africa where he was joined by his young brother Bellarmine Chatunga.
The two boys were recently evicted from an expensive penthouse in Sandton after a violent brawl. They are now staying at a rented property in the upmarket Sandhurst in Sandton where Grace and her family have two other properties.
Grace also stirred controversy months ago when she was involved in a US$1,3 million diamond ring dispute with a Lebanese dealer. Her lavish lifestyle has earned her the monikers “Gucci Grace” and “First Shopper”.
Government has resolved to build a private university — Robert Mugabe University — in Mazowe outside Harare at a cost of US$1 billion using public funds, suggesting the Mugabe family is using taxpayers’ money to fund their private interests.
In 2011, Grace and her former business partner, Ping Sung — a Taiwanese-born South African — bought trucks, trailers and equipment worth almost US$1 million with money transferred through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Grace and Hsieh were later engaged in a fight over a US$5 million mansion in Hong Kong. The row over the Hong Kong home apparently erupted after a dispute over a gold mine in Chinhoyi.
Grace’s Mazowe empire already includes an opulent double-storey mansion on Mapfeni Farm, which can be seen from Manzou Farm where she has been evicting thousands of villagers since 2011 to establish a game park. There is also a dairy farm, orphanage and a school. Grace has also grabbed land which belonged to the former Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed agro-producer Interfresh’s Mazowe Citrus Estate.
The Independent — which has been systematically ferreting out these issues — has extensively reported on Grace and her sons’ costly champagne lifestyle in recent months.