SYDNEY KAWADZA AND LORRAINE NDEBELE
THE late former President Robert Mugabe could be turning in his grave with properties running into several millions of United States dollars from two of his farms going under the hammer as the business empire folds, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
According to a notice, Harare-based auctioneers, Ruby Auctioneers, will tomorrow and on Monday auction farm equipment and vehicles at Mugabe’s two – Gushungo Holdings (Highfield Farm) in Norton and Gushungo Dairy Farm in Mazowe.
A source close to the late leader’s family yesterday confirmed that Mugabe’s wife, Grace, instituted the auction as she looks at down-scaling operations.
Zimbabwe on Monday celebrates Mugabe’s life through the National Youth Day, which also coincides with the auctioning of the late leader’s assets.
Mugabe was born on February 21, 1924 and died in September 2019 after being removed from office via a military coup that propelled Emmerson Mnangagwa into the presidency.
Reacting to the development, a Mugabe sympathisers yesterday said this reflected badly on Mnangagwa’s administration
which is failing to protect the former leader’s estate.
“The treatment of the former President (Mugabe) continues to have a sour taste in the mouth.
Inability to respect a founding father notwithstanding any mistakes does little to build and reconcile a nation.
It’s absolutely essential that former leaders and current ones are treated with respect and decorum so that they gracefully exit office without fear of ill-treatment.”
The ardent follower said celebrating Mugabe’s birthday on Monday should also be a period of self-introspection for the current leadership.
“We celebrate his birthday on the 21st, a date agreed to by all and hopefully it’s a reflection time.
We can do better as a nation and unite our people for greater prosperity than perpetuate feuds and inability to forgive,” the sympathiser said.
In an interview yesterday, independent researcher and political analyst Effie Ncube said the development needs to be assessed principally on the reasons the former first family was disposing of the property.
“If the property being disposed of was acquired above board without any criminality then there is no problem with that except if they are disposing of that property because they are having problems financially or maybe because the Mnangagwa regime is not taking care of them.
“That will be a problem because every new government has a responsibility to accord dignity to those who have governed the country in the past regardless of the political differences they might have or which they continue to have now,” Ncube said.
“There is some dignity that goes with the office of the president, the dignity that goes with the office of the first lady regardless of how much we might disagree with them.
The empathy, the due respect and compassion has to go with those offices unless there is a clear cut case of criminality.”
He added that if Grace was being victimised on account of political differences that would reflect badly on Mnangagwa’s government.
“If the former first lady is disposing of the property because she wants to retire into private life and she thinks that the excess property is not fitting to the kind of life she will be living then there isn’t any problem.
“If she is getting rid of the property because she wants to retire into something more decent or to get some income and get a decent life in retirement again it becomes problematic because the government has a responsibility to take care of the former first family regardless of the political differences,” he added.
“It’s not about personal differences but what the law requires in terms of how they should be treated.
In the case that they could not sustain the business after leaving, which is always the case with many former leaders on the continent, then that also brings a lot of questions on the former leaders,” he said.
Political commentator Rashwheat Mukundu said the auction signalled the end of the Mugabe legacy as the family retreats from both its business and political interests.
“This attests to views that business ventures of the politically connected are anchored on political patronage and cannot survive on their own,” he said.
Properties to be auctioned on site in Norton include three Nissan NP 200 pickups, a Mazda BT50, a Toyota Hilux, seven Bluewater pumps on wheels and a John Deere combine harvester to maize head.
The properties also include combine harvesters, motorised boom-spray, tractor mower side cutters, spreaders and reversible three-dish ploughs.
Property going under the hammer at Gushungo Dairy Farm include an Isuzu five-tonne refrigerated, combine harvester maize head, boom spray, Scania horse, 30 tonne trailer, two Honda Fit sedans, water bowsers, a minibus, six lawn mowers and two tractors.
Government in 2020 gazetted a law known as the Presidential Pension and Retirement Benefits (Services and Facilities for Spouses of Former Presidents) Notice stipulating benefits the spouse of a former President is entitled to in case of retirement or death of the President.