FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe, who has gone full throttle in expanding her real estate portfolio, has bought a US$4,2 million plot that was earmarked for a housing development project in the plush Helensvale area of Harare’s Borrowdale suburb as she grows her empire, the Zimbabwe Independent can exclusively reveal.
By Bernard Mpofu/Elias Mambo
Grace has been splurging millions of dollars on houses, cars and jewellery 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.
Information gathered by the Independent shows that in November 2016, Grace paid US$4,2 million to a Harare man, Jan Teede, for a plot measuring 55 hectares which is located at 336 Carrick Creagh Road. The property overlooks President Robert Mugabe’s iconic “Blue Roof” mansion. The plot, situated nearly 500 metres from Borrowdale Country Club, was first bought by Teede in 1983.
Teede confirmed that he had sold the property to Malthill Investments, a company linked to Grace. The Independent could not extract a file on Malthill at the Companies Registry in Harare.
“Full payment has been made, but the property has not yet been transferred. This, however, is imminent,” Teede said in a written response to questions sent.
“Malthill Investments (bought the property). I do not know the shareholdings of this company, and have not enquired. I understand that Grace Mugabe is one of the directors. The business has been handled by Kennan Properties and I left all negotiations to them. We have not, contrary to speculation, been given Reserve Bank permission to externalise the funds.”
Teede further said he had plans to develop houses on the expansive property, adding that he could move out of the property by December this year, after the purchase.
“The house itself is a fairly humble dwelling, but on a large and valuable property (55 hectares) that I purchased in 1983. I was in the process of commencing a housing development on it, (approx 73 plots, with sub-division rights granted) when I received an offer for the entire property,” Teede said.
“No, we are still in situ. we have been given some time (perhaps a year) to remain after transfer, but I have no idea whether this will be a de facto situation, or whether we will be asked to move out soon after transfer.”
The Independent visited the property this week. The sprawling plot is strewn with mainly Msasa trees and metal sculptures close to the entrance. The property is fortified with a parameter fence.
Checks by the Independent show that Grace has also bought a property in Sandhurst, Sandton’s most affluent area for R45 million (US$3,5 million) and is also negotiating to buy another. The property is located at Number 37 Killarney Road. The price could go up to a whopping R49 million (US$3,7 million) when transfer costs, renovations and finishings are added.
She has also been renting a huge South African property owned by Angolan immigrants for R200 000 (more than US$15 000)a month. Investigations and reports show the rented six-bedroomed property is Number 27A Coronation Road, Sandhurst, Sandton.
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.
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 locked 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 Estates.
The Independent — which has been systematically ferreting out these issues — has extensively reported on Grace and her sons’ costly champagne lifestyle in recent months.