The report says the statues would be protected as national monuments. The project is understood to be spearheaded by the Minister of Local Government, Ignatius Chombo, and is seen as Zanu (PF)’s tribute to Mugabe as the Founding Father of Zimbabwe.
Chombo was not answering his phone despite repeated attempts and had not responded to sms messages requesting comment on the matter at the time of going to press.
Unconfirmed reports say the construction of the effigies started in 2009 and the pieces now are ready for delivery. One of the statues is a bronze image of Mugabe worth $3.5 million and measuring the height of five men standing on top of each other.
The reports claim it is to be erected at either the national Heroes Acre or the Africa Unity Square in central Harare.
If installed at the national shrine, the statue would be put up next to the giant Tomb of the Unknown Soldier built by the North Koreans shortly after independence. It is reportedly similar to the one that Saddam Hussein built for himself, which was destroyed when he was overthrown in April 2003.
The smaller bronze statue, valued at $1,5 million, will be put up in Mugabe’s rural Zvimba home, where it will be part of a $3.8 million museum to be named after Mugabe. Chombo is the chief coordinator of the project. Mugabe has reportedly insisted that the statues be erected only when he is dead.
This is despite his portrait being a major feature on Zanu (PF) party regalia, with critics saying he has built personality cult around himself, in the North-Korean mould.
North Korea shares close ties with Zanu (PF) dating back to the 1970s when it gave the party military support. It helped with training of a crack brigade that was responsible for massacres in Matabeleland in the early 1980s when Mugabe unleashed troops in southern Zimbabwe, ostensibly to flush out dissidents.
Around 20,000 innocent civilians were killed during the Gukurahundi, that ended with the signing of the 1987 unity agreement between Mugabe’s Zanu and (PF) Zapu then led by Joshua Nkomo.
In 2012 Chombo made attempts to build a modern city in Mount Hampden, near Zvimba – the rural home he shares with Mugabe - but it seems to have suffered a still birth. At the time Chombo said the city would be moulded along the uptown Sandton area of Johannesburg, complete with a parliament complex, modern malls, hotels and government offices.