The fall of Grace Mugabe


Grace Mugabe—once an eccentric and untouchable figure in Zimbabwean politics—is at loggerheads with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government and the ruling ZANU-PF party over the family’s properties.

Government officials recently invited “miners, potential mines and approved prospectors to show interest” in mining activities on the four farms owned by the late Robert Mugabe’s family and believed to have rich gold deposits.

The farms, located west of Harare, have a dairy products factory, a private school and an orphanage, which were all started by Grace Mugabe.

The farms are part of real estate worth millions of dollars she acquired during the violent takeovers of white-owned farms at the height of government land reforms in the past decade.

The government’s actions are seen as revenge against Mugabe’s widow over long-standing bad blood between herself and insiders in the ruling party ZANU-PF, and more recently the public tussle between her family and the government over Mugabe’s burial.

The family had initially agreed to a government request to bury him at a hero’s square in Harare reserved for leaders of Zimbabwe’s 1980s liberation struggle.

The agreement was only reached after President Mnangagwa agreed to build a $1 million hilltop mausoleum that would set him apart from his colleagues.

However, at the last minute Grace decided to have Mugabe buried in his rural home. The slight was taken as a blow by the government and party functionaries who have never hidden their disdain for her alleged role in alienating the former president from fellow war veterans and national leaders.

Grace was accused by the military in 2017 of hounding out her husband’s successor and other veterans of the liberation struggle, just before the palace coup that brought President Mnangagwa to power.

The government’s recent move is therefore seen as hitting back at the former First Lady.

Even before the former President was buried, at the height of the tussle over burial arrangements, it is alleged that President Mnangagwa’s emissaries threatened to seize a house he had gifted Mugabe’s daughter.

The house in Mt Pleasant was built for Mugabe by ZANU-PF and the party still holds the title. However, President Mnangagwa has publicly said that the party was in the process of handing over title deeds to the house and the family’s Blue Roof mansion in Harare’s Borrowdale district built by government funds.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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