ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe has designated the area around which he is building his private multi-million 25-bedroomed mansion a “protected area” as he faces calls to disclose the source of foreign currency for exclusive imported materials being used at the mammoth project.
The designation of the area as “protected area” means access is now severely restricted and anyone who strays or is caught taking photographs might land in hot water.
The police can now legally shoot and kill anyone who strays into the area without authority as has been done at Mugabe’s official residence, Zimbabwe House, where several motorists have been shot and killed over the years.
Mugabe’s private mansion in the suburb of Helensvale, near Borrowdale, has been under construction for the past five years and is now expected to cost more than Â£5 million on completion.
Apart from bricks, gravel and cement which have been sourced locally, sources say everything else at the property, particularly all the interior finishings and roofing materials have been imported from China and Europe.
The house is being built mainly by a Yugoslav company, Energo Project, though some work is subcontracted to other companies.
The project also involves the construction of two sizeable dams around the mansion and extensive landscaping work.
Mugabe is now facing calls to disclose where he has been getting the foreign currency to purchase all the imported materials for his house particularly after the arrest of his finance minister, Christopher Kuruneri.
Kuruneri is in jail after being arrested for illegally exporting foreign currency to South Africa where he is reportedly building a R30-million mansion in Cape Town.
Zimbabwe is mired in its worst foreign currency crisis after the collapse of the tobacco farming sector in the wake of Mugabe’s land seizures.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has therefore imposed stringent rules to prioritise the use of scarce foreign currency to importing fuel and electricity.
A spokesman for the anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International (Zimbabwe Chapter) said in view of that background, it becomes “absolutely essential” for Mugabe to disclose where and how he has been getting foreign currency to pay for all imports for his private mansion.
Scores of manufacturing companies have folded due to lack of foreign currency to meet essential imports.
Kuruneri claimed that he got his money to pay for his Cape Town mansion from consultancy work.