FORMER First Lady Grace Mugabe’s empire is teetering on the brink of collapse following reports that she will be stripped off powers to the US$7 million Mazowe Orphanage project that she had usurped,” Zim Morning Post can reveal.
This publication understands that the orphanage is under the government’s microscope, on basis that the project was a donation to the Zimbabwean government funded by a Chinese grant.
Grace, however turned the project into a personal investment contrary to the clauses of the government to government agreement.
According to the agreement, she was supposed to be the patron, not the owner of the orphanage.
Zim Morning Post can authoritatively report that the project which now houses the Grace Mugabe state-of-the-art junior and secondary schools was funded by the Chinese government under project Identification number 19993 in 2008 and the recipient, according to the grant proposal seen by the Zim Morning Post, is the Zimbabwean government specifically the First Lady’s office.
The school was built on a 7 720 square metre plot and it was supposed to house at least 900 orphans and the less privileged but Grace turned into a private school for high profile people children who were now paying fees at a premium.
According to the documents seen by Zim Morning Post, the grant was meant to assist the government, while Grace Mugabe Foundation was roped in as an implementing partner.
“This project is the same project with the Defence College of Zimbabwe where the National Army was brought in this deal as an implementing partner and after its completion it was handed over to Government that is what Grace was supposed to do,” revealed a source close to the Government.
According to the documents gleaned by this publication, Grace Mugabe Foundation was supposed to partner Anhui Foreign Economic Construction CO.Ltd (AFECC), State owned Company in China.
Government has however distanced itself to reports that it is investigating the matter.
Deputy Information minister Energy Mutodi said the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commision (ZACC) was the responsible body to deal with Grace , should she be found to be a person of interest in the Mazowe Orphanage matter.
“This is just grapevine, the executive does not investigate anyone rather this is done by the police and the anti-corruption commission“ It is from these institutions that you can get an indication if an investigation has been opened against Grace Mugabe.“Government is not a law unto itself. The law operates separately through institutions mandated to administer it,” Mutodi told Zim Morning Post on Monday.
Zim Morning Post also understands that staffers at her Mazowe campus are leaving en -masse because of lack of incentives they used to enjoy during Grace’s era.Grace allegedly abused her powers as First Lady and was granted a loan from CBZ bank without collateral putting her on the top of the list of bad debtors with a debt of US$4.5 million.
CBZ had to engage Biti and Associates to institute litigation with view of recovering the money.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is on record saying that Grace’s assets will be safe but legality issues are likely to affect this pledge.
It is also not clear which properties are registered in Grace or her late husband ’s name but indications are that it is certain that the bullet holes riddled Highfield house is one of the few properties registered in the late Robert Mugabe’s name.
News On Farm:
Mazowe, At one of Robert Mugabe’s farms, workers said they are pained by the death of their boss and worried about their future — and some say they are hoping his feisty wife will be their savior.
The rolling, rich land of Mazowe, about 25 miles north of the capital, Harare, used to be owned exclusively by white farmers. But when Mugabe implemented his land seizures, he and his wife took several of the choice farms in this area.
At sunset, workers trudged home after a day of harvesting maize seed.
“We never met him (Mugabe) but he took good care of us,” said Monica Tamanikwa, walking with her 3-year-old daughter. She said workers on Mugabe’s farms were always paid on time and at times in cash, unlike workers at other properties. “If we run out of food, we just go to the farm to ask and we get it.”
Shaking her head in disbelief, she said: “I still can’t believe he is dead.”
Mugabe, an ex-guerrilla chief who took power in 1980 and ruled for decades, taking the country from prosperity to economic decline, died Friday at a hospital in Singapore at the age of 95. His body is expected to arrive back in Zimbabwe on Wednesday and will lie in state in the capital before burial on Sunday. The site of the burial has not been officially announced.
As Mugabe’s death is met with mixed feelings in Zimbabwe and across the globe, at the farm compound, the workers express anxiety.
In a country with high unemployment — largely blamed on economic mismanagement by Mugabe and his successor — the farmworkers are worried about their future.
Many are pinning their hopes on Mugabe’s wife, Grace, “to run the farm and have a good heart like the old man,” said Eremiah Muyepa, a farmworker.
“I have been managing to send my children to school because we are always paid on time. We don’t know whether Amai (Mrs.) Mugabe will continue, or maybe she will just abandon us,” said the 30-year-old father of three.
Grace Mugabe has been out of the limelight since her husband lost power in November 2017. Her aspirations to succeed her husband are blamed for his ouster, when former ally Emmerson Mnangagwa and generals moved against him.
A former secretary in Mugabe’s office, she rose to prominence after news broke that she had a child with Mugabe while his first wife, Sally, was ailing. Mugabe subsequently said his first wife, who died from kidney failure in 1992, knew and approved of his liaison with Grace since she could provide the president with children. Grace, more than 40 years younger than Mugabe, had three children with the president.
After a Catholic wedding in 1996, Grace Mugabe made headlines for shopping sprees in Europe and Asia, a fiery temper and the acquisition of huge tracts of land under Mugabe’s controversial land reform program.
Like her husband, Grace had a knack for giving speeches marked by inflammatory language and declaring that Mugabe would “rule from the grave.” She specifically targeted Mugabe’s then-deputy, Mnangagwa.
“I am a wife of the president. Who is Mnangagwa on this Earth? Who is he? … What do I get from him?” she barked at a political rally, denying reports that she had poisoned Mnangagwa with ice cream from her dairy weeks before Mnangagwa was fired as vice president and fled the country.
Mnangagwa returned to Zimbabwe to become president with the help of the military, which forced Mugabe to resign.
In a country where the government enjoys vast powers over farm ownership, Grace Mugabe will need Mnangagwa’s magnanimity to keep the land. Some say Mugabe’s legacy may fail to protect her.
“In politics, unlike in religion, the dead do not protect the living,” said Alexander Rusero, a Harare-based political analyst
“It will be about what she says, what she does in the post-Mugabe era. For as long as her actions and moves do not upset or threaten power, she will absolutely be safe,” said Rusero. “So far she has managed to keep a low profile, which is good for her.”
The family’s wealth is not publicly known and Mugabe in the past denied stashing money outside the country. They own more than a dozen farms, mainly taken from white farmers.
On one of the farms, the family established a dairy that produces milk, yogurt and chocolate. On Monday, workers in the sales office basked in the sun because of a lack of customers. Hundreds of dairy cows graze in the pastures about a mile away.
Some workers said they hope Mugabe’s widow will improve their living conditions — if she holds on to the property.