Former President Robert Mugabe will be forced to choose one out of the 21 farms that he owns, and his successor President Emmerson Mnangagwa might have a re-think of the ex-Zanu PF leader’s benefits, state media reported Monday.
Once revered as a revolutionary icon, Mugabe was forced out of power after a bloodless military coup last November which triggered a series of internal manoeuvres including an impeachment before he threw in the towel.
Mugabe, according to the State-controlled Herald newspaper, has now “effectively joined opposition politics” in a desperate bid to recapture power and protect his sprawling business empire including farms.
“Revamping the G40 project (a former Zanu PF faction), which is obviously destroyed beyond redemption, is meant to secure their sprawling investments, which they thought Mai Mugabe (Grace) would mind having either wrestling or legitimise wrestling the power through (Saviour) Kasukuwere,” The Herald quoted an unnamed source.
While Mugabe at his peak riled against black land beneficiaries who worked as proxies with commercial white farmers, it has emerged he was also guilty of the same.
“There is an issue of farms that they (Mugabes) have been leasing to whites. Here was a President who was preaching one-person, one-farm, but who has 21 farms. But a good number which was being leased to white farmers. And he knows that the new Government will have to want to choose one out of the 21,” the paper claimed.
In what could be a plot to build a case of abuse of office against the veteran leader, the paper reported that the former Zanu PF leader who ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist for the better part of four decades had benefitted from State funds to run his private business.
“But some of his investments, including the dairy and the children’s project, were benefiting from a blurred accounting system between those business propositions and State coffers. Now, they are worried that unless they recapture State power, all those projects will crumble,” it added.
Mugabe has been linked to a new party known as the New Patriotic Front (NPF) which the paper claimed is now led by former Mashonaland East provincial affairs minister Ambrose Mutinhiri after being anointed by Mugabe last week. Mutinhiri recently announced he had quit Zanu PF “because of the coup”.
The NPF whose leadership also reportedly includes Mugabe’s former ministers Jonathan Moyo, Kasukuwere and the former President’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao has also unsuccessfully been trying to lobby regional bodies such as Sadc and African Union to intervene in Zimbabwe.
“Cde Mugabe’s new endeavours, sources say, were disingenuous since he is the same person actively asking for his pension, while at the same time relaunching himself as an active opposition leader.
“What is noteworthy is that the former president, who by the way is being pushed by the (former) First Lady, on one level seeks to enjoy the package of retirement as a former Head of State, while relaunching himself as an active opposition leader in the present,” the paper quoted its sources as saying.
“He wants a Zanu PF government to continue to look after him, to continue to feed him at Blue Roof (Mugabe’s private home), which he has turned into a cell to launch opposition politics.”
And in a clear warning to Mugabe, the source is quoted saying; “Whether or not the new order will continue to be that generous, that remains to be seen because essentially what he is doing is to spurn overtures of goodwill which have been shown him in the vain hope that there is still an appetite for a political Robert Mugabe. But that is an illusion that he still thinks he is popular.”
The Herald claimed that Mugabe now wants through the NPF to “spoil” the broth for Zanu PF come the elections.
The former President is reportedly also “anxious’ to have the new party launched before Mnangagwa’s amnesty extension on those who externalized funds expires on March 19th.
“It’s not fortuitous that there is a frantic effort to relaunch themselves politically ahead of the March 19 deadline, where names will be published, and ahead of a soon-to-be-made approach for them to decide on one farm and drop the other 20, which include the farm of former High Court judge, Ben Hlatswayo,” the paper said.