Net closes in on Grace

HARARE – Former first lady Grace Mugabe  has a couple of questions to answer to the authorities over how she amassed assets in foreign lands as the net closes in on individuals and corporates who stashed their wealth in foreign lands.

On Tuesday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa gave a three-month deadline to individuals and corporates that externalised foreign currency to return the loot or face arrest.

Grace Mugabe

In a statement, Mnangagwa said it had been brought to his attention that huge sums of money and other assets were externalised, thus prejudicing the hard currency-starved economy of the much-needed liquidity.

Highly-placed sources told the Daily News yesterday that the net will spare no one — big and small, as the new government puts its foot down to restore financial discipline that had become an anathema under former president Robert Mugabe’s spendthrift administration.

It is being alleged that the powers-that-be already have the list of people involved in the externalisation of foreign currency and want to give them the leeway to return the loot in the spirit of letting bygones be bygones before the law takes its course.

Without suggesting any wrongdoing on her part, they said it would be interesting for the authorities to see if the former first lady could account for some of the assets acquired by the first family in foreign lands.

Grace projects herself as a shrewd businesswoman whose interests span across farming, education, property and dairy production.

Notwithstanding the economic meltdown that has led to local businesses haemorrhaging to the point of closure and massive, Grace is said to have made considerable acquisitions beyond Zimbabwe’s borders.

What is not clear is whether she had the requisite approvals for the foreign purchases and if there was no undue influence on the part of the bureaucrats that presided over the approvals.

The then powerful Grace recently spent a cool R45 million rand on a 9 249 square metre property in Sandhurst — a leafy suburb where the affluent in South Africa live large.

She also reportedly brought a Rolls Royce Ghost model worth half a million dollars around the same time in September, again in South Africa.

Known for wearing diamond studded spectacles, gold crusted watches and a ring that was bought for over a million dollars, Grace is also said to own properties in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

While details about the Mugabes’ wealth are sketchy, Grace has led a life of opulence, and shopping, an ingrained habit that earned the former first lady the moniker “Gucci Grace”.

Mugabe’s sons have openly paraded their wealth through purchases of Rolls Royce vehicles, expensive watches and choice champagnes.

Some estimates put the Mugabes’ net worth at $1 billion dollars and according to WikiLeaks, the former president’s assets “include everything from secret accounts in Switzerland, the Channel Islands and the Bahamas to castles in Scotland”.

A snapshot of the Mugabes’ wealth came to the fore in 2015 over an ownership dispute of a $7,6 million Hong Kong home with an Asian tycoon.

Legal experts said with Mnangagwa having thrown the gauntlet by giving citizens who externalised foreign currency and brought assets in foreign land three months to return the loot, the deal that Mugabe signed with the generals granting him immunity may not insulate him or his families from accounting for their wealth outside the country’s borders.

Constitutional law expert and one of the authors of the current Constitution Alex Magaisa said as things stand, the Mugabes are exposed to legal action.

“It is presumably on this basis that the exit deal includes provision for immunity from lawsuits. The question is whether the exit deal takes precedence over the Constitution. It is axiomatic that the Constitution is the supreme law of the country. Section 2(1) of the Constitution states that: ‘This Constitution is the supreme law of Zimbabwe and any law, practice, custom or conduct inconsistent with it is invalid to the extent of the inconsistency,’” he said.

“This means if, as it appears, the deal is inconsistent with the Constitution, it is invalid. If sued, the courts should give precedence to the Constitution and he would have to prove that his acts were done in good faith. As for members of his family, the immunity would not hold. They never had immunity during his presidency and they cannot claim immunity now,” added Magaisa.

Roman Catholic cleric — Father Fidelis Mukonori — who played a key role in persuading 93-year-old Mugabe to step down after pressure from the military and the populace, told the Daily News that “Grace’s immunity” was not part of the deal.

“We did not discuss her immunity with the generals,” said Father Mukonori.

Former Finance minister Tendai Biti, who clashed several times with Zanu PF officials during the inclusive government era, told the Daily News that over $3 billion left the country between 2009 and 2013 when he was still in charge.

“There are people who took out money; there are lot of things that happened. At least $3 billion left this country when I was the minister of Finance between 2009 and 2011 due to illicit financial inflows,” said Biti, without mentioning individuals or companies involved.

The MDC this week said the net should not just target small fish.

Obert Gutu, the MDC’s spokesperson and a former deputy Justice minister, claimed this week that it was a public secret that top politicians and other well-connected individuals illegally externalised huge amounts of money over the years.

“Some of these criminals have actually gone ahead to buy and/or construct expensive mansions in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Dubai and Hong Kong, using the proceeds from these externalised funds,” said Gutu.

“Billions of United States dollars, particularly arising from the illicit sale of diamonds from the Marange and Chiadzwa diamond fields, were illegally externalised by these criminals. All this money should be brought back to Zimbabwe sooner rather than later,” said.

Comments (12)

Why did you remove comment box on ED's Cabinet. We know you have been captures, that Daily News Editor. Please allow us to express our views as we tell it like it is. WE NEED TO COMMENT ON ED's CABINET CHOICE. Be serious even the 3 comments cannot open, this is not N. Korea Mr Editor restore the commentary box

You Are Captured Also - 1 December 2017

Thieves should be arrested for looting the nation's resources nomatter what position they once occupied.

Ngazvirehwe Sezvazviri - 1 December 2017

Daily News what do you mean by saying Magaisa is one of the authors of the constitution when this is a national document authored by Zimbabweans? Sitting in a drafting team and authoring the constitution are miles apart. Let us be reasonable people.

Observer - 1 December 2017

I wanted to comment on the Title morgan Tsvangirai in dilema to GNU.........I failed to comment.Those wishfull thinkers who say MDC should not legitimise the coup are unfortunate people whom i call street politicians.....MDC was suppose to ask its branches on this matter.......not only in their offices by taking this isolation choice thus they chosen their zimbabwean will ever support them becz people are tired they needs peace and rest......recons....bulding one zim......your elections 2018 should go into the dust bins .You do not take advice seriously.....Your offices and your top executives for the MDC must campaign for your selves no youth or anyone with brains in his head will waste time campaigning for you becz you are serious at using other people.The equation was simple everyone looser including the MDC but demanding GNU ....MDC was going to leave a mark by being part of a transitional authority that will usher all democratic reforms so who can do the reforms for your to take power......for what good reasons from you childish MDC guys and others with no brains .....the whole story since the downfall of RG MUGABE was the end of everything .....ndipo pakapera sarungano....until the next ten years ...........MUgabe akati haadi vamwe vanhu asi baba ED vachipinda vakati vanoda inclusivity and maifanirwa kumira pamberi kuti baba handei....makabata ABC in the GNU.

Dofo - 1 December 2017

People celebrated the fall of Mugabe not the army puppet Mnangagwa and if they is any person thinking he will bring change to this country then god forgive that person is insane .I fore see a landslid for the opposition next year no doubt about that .

Diibulaanyika - 1 December 2017

Landslide yemumhepo kani.....hapasisina apa dipo pakapera GVT Wil do all the MDC work ...waite and see....but no reforms until after 10 years when you prove to be patrotic enough opposition thats otherwise power until never check the the new GVT........HAnzi tichakamirira mumwe......mambo upi......this is regime change that came on a different directions which wise people are suppose to see and welcome...change ndiyoyi.....

dofo - 1 December 2017

That is wishful thinking of panicking desperate la coste pple like Mnangagwa who in his right senses can vote for Mnangagwa suwa even Mugabe said it that the guy is dander head . Come next year he will be history .We are tired of thieves clumsy dubious pretenders.Nomistake next year Mnangagwa out and an elected president in .

Diibulaanyika - 1 December 2017

Dibulaanyika I agree with you. Who doesn't know that lacoste is zanu faction. After all these guys have to clean up their mess. There was no need for a GNU. Why do you need someone to help you clean up your own mess else you will also be messed up. Ever heard the statement Send a thief to catch a thief. This is what is happening so no cause for celebration yet. His cabinet isn't what we hoped for too

pride - 2 December 2017

No guarantee that Tsvangirai will win n elections next year wakarambwa ku ma ruzevha uko bec of his anti-land distribution policy(pahondo yeminda) & his anti-indigenization stance.And his basic appeal to attract foreign capital to resuscitate the economy among urbanities is already under attack by ED who is already engaging with the international community to the same cause.ED is already having a re-look over accusations of human rights abuses & wld encourage foreign capital inflows in place of the acclaimed position of Tsvangirai.Ku ma ruzevha they are behind empowerment

addmore gudo - 2 December 2017

Tsvangirai warambwa even kana kumusha kwake ku Buhera for the same reason & resort to falsely claim of the so called nikivu rigging when itz clear failure.And is increasingly becoming unpopular even among his urban supporters bec itz again increasingly becoming clear that he, like Mugabe is undemocratic-chose to cling to the post of MDC Presidency

addmore gudo - 2 December 2017

Regai tione

Innoe - 5 December 2017

Lets give ED a chance

eliah kureva - 8 December 2017

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