According to a leaked US diplomatic cable published this week, the bulk of Mugabe’s assets were at the time believed to be in the form of real estate.
Together with his wife Grace, the Zimbabwean leader was said to own at least six residences in the country, including a multi-story mansion in Harare’s posh Borrowdale suburb.
The couple also own several farms that they grabbed from former white farmers under a violent land “reform” programme that the despotic leader says was necessary to correct the injustices by former colonial masters.
“The full extent of Mugabe’s assets are unknown, but are rumoured to exceed $1 billion in value, the majority of which are likely invested outside Zimbabwe,” said the cable written by the US embassy in Harare in August 2001 and made public by whistleblower website WikiLeaks this week.
Media reports have linked the dictator to a looting spree over the past few years during which Mugabe and his inner circle allegedly seized commercial farmland equivalent to more than half of Zimbabwe.
The US diplomatic cable acknowledged that it was difficult to ascertain the full extent of Mugabe’s overseas assets although these were rumoured to include “everything from secret accounts in Switzerland, the Channel Islands and the Bahamas to castles in Scotland”.
Mugabe has insisted that he has no foreign assets or bank accounts, challenging the West to seize any that they find under his name.
His associates, including Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and businessmen John Bredenkamp and Billy Rautenbauch, are said to have amassed significant wealth, mainly acquired during Zimbabwe’s controversial involvement in the five-year-old Democratic Republic of Congo civil war.
Although the embassy had no firm confirmation of the assets held by the three, it said they were major beneficiaries of military contracts and mining concessions. “They are presumed to have channelled some of that wealth to Mugabe,” the cable said.
Mnangagwa was at the time chairman of First National Bank of Congo while Bredenkamp’s company, Tremalt, was reported to have a 20 percent stake in the DRC mining parastatal Gecamines, which granted substantial mining concessions to Zimbabwean companies.Post published in: News