Sources confirmed that the geriatric leader has taken delivery of the new chopper from China, said to be model HM 036 manufactured by Shenzhen Zhangyang Technology.
We have established through leaked information from top government and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) officials that after the crash last year Mugabe’s chopperÂ was pronounced beyond repair. He then ordered his personal banker and central back chief, Gideon Gono to make available US$3 million for the purchase of a new one.
The country is suffering a critical shortage of foreign currency, and economists say US$3 million could purchase food and drugs enough to meet the needs of the whole country for three months.
Mugabe purchased a Chinese-manufactured chopper, white in colour and took delivery of it early this year in time for the start of his election campaign. He is already using the chopper, sources say, as he moves around the country seeking re-election.
Our sources said he negotiated with the Chinese to make a down payment of US$3 million for the chopper, whose price was US$5 million.
He purchased the new helicopter from China, and the money was made available by the RBZ late last year, a senior RBZ official said on condition of anonymity.
He was given a special condition and allowed to pay US$3 and will have to pay the other US$2 million later.
Another source working in Mugabe’s office confirmed that the new helicopter, arrived at the beginning of the year when Mugabe was away on holiday and Gono visited China, most probably to settle the deal and arrange for the delivery.
Questions sent to Gono’s office two weeks ago were not responded to by the time of going to press and emailed questions to Shenzhen Zhangyang Technology were also not responded to. The secretary in Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba’s office on Thursday said, you people will not get any comment from him on such things before hanging up the phone.
Last April The Zimbabwean reported that Mugabe’s European-made Cougar helicopter crashed towards the end of February and was said by technicians to have been damaged beyond repair.