FORMER president Robert Mugabe has been given the iconic Mercedes-Benz S600 Pullman Guard limousine he was using for official duties as part of his exit package following his dramatic ouster last November, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.
By Bernard Mpofu
The ultra-luxurious bulletproof and blast-proof car, whose cost is estimated at US$1,6 million, has been outfitted with civilian registration plates.
Mugabe buckled to pressure on November 21 after he was placed under house arrest by the army, expelled from the ruling Zanu PF and threatened with impeachment.
His successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, announced in December that Mugabe would get a house, a fleet of private cars and was guaranteed first-class air travel as part of a retirement package funded by the state.
Details of the long-time leader’s exit package were published in the Government Gazette in December, in terms of Section 3(1) of the Presidential Pension and Retirement Benefits Act.
Sources familiar with developments at Mugabe’s palatial “Blue Roof” home in Borrowdale suburb said the limousine now has ordinary yellow number plates (AAX 3270). Before that the car was registered as “Zim 1”.
Sources said since his return from an annual holiday, the Mercedes-Benz S600 has been parked at his home.
“The old man has been keeping a low profile since his retirement. The number of soldiers and security details at his mansion has also been reduced. He has not been frequenting his Zvimba rural home too,” a source said.
The retired president will also be entitled to first-class overseas air travel restricted to four state-funded trips per year and three cars — a Mercedes-Benz S600 series sedan, a four-wheel drive vehicle and a pick-up truck. Government also undertook to pay for his fuel.
Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa assured African Union leaders at the just-ended AU summit that Mugabe is well and safe.
“May I inform this august chamber that, your brother President Mugabe is safe, secure and well,” Mnangagwa told regional leaders.
Towards the tail end of his rule, Mugabe’s wife Grace, full throttle in expanding her real estate portfolio, splurged 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.
In 2011, Grace and her former business partner, Ping Sung Hsieh — 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.
Grace’s Mazowe empire already includes an opulent double-storey mansion on Mapfeni Farm, which can be seen from Manzou Farm where she began evicting thousands of villagers in 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.