Zimbabwe’s former leader Robert Mugabe, who died in September, left $10mn and some properties in the capital, but no will naming his beneficiaries, details of his estate published by state-owned newspaper the Herald showed yesterday.
Zimbabweans have speculated for years about the extent of Mugabe’s wealth, with many assuming that he and his family amassed a vast fortune during his 37 years in power.
Mugabe’s daughter Bona Chikowore wrote in October to the Master of the High Court seeking to register her father’s estate, the Herald reported. It listed assets including $10mn held in a local bank, four houses in Harare, 10 cars, one farm, his rural home and an orchard.
One of the properties is the palatial home known as Blue Roof in an upmarket suburb of the capital where Mugabe lived.
The list does not include several farms that he reportedly owned or a dairy business he ran with wife Grace, or any properties outside Zimbabwe.
The Herald said Mugabe’s lawyer Terrence Hussein had also asked the court to register the estate, saying he and the family had not found any will left by Zimbabwe’s founding leader. Under Zimbabwean laws, the estate of a person who dies without a will is distributed between their spouse and children.
“Thus far, we have not been able to locate a will, but have sent out enquiries to other law firms, although the family members are not aware of any,” Hussein wrote in a letter to the High Court that was quoted by the Herald.
Hussein did not respond to calls and questions from Reuters for comment. Chikowore did not answer calls to her mobile phone. A diplomatic cable from the US Embassy in Harare in 2001 that was published by Wikileaks said Mugabe was rumoured to have more than $1bn of assets in Zimbabwe and overseas but that it had no reliable information.
Social media posts showing his sons Robert Jr and Bellarmine Chatunga with bottles of expensive champagne at a Johannesburg nightclub and reports of Grace’s shopping sprees have offered tantalising glimpses of the family’s lavish spending.
A legal dispute in 2014 over a $5mn villa in Hong Kong suggested the family had been buying overseas property. The government said it owned the house. Towards the end of his life, Mugabe complained about the size of his retirement package and said he did not have enough money to pay for the upkeep of the Blue Roof.
Mnangagwa hinted last week that the Mugabe family owned a number of farms in Zimbabwe and that the government would leave them with just one, in line with rules limiting farm ownership.
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