BERLIN– Spendthrift President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has reportedly bought an exquisite massive beachfront villa in Dubai, where he intends to retire or alternatively use the opulent property as an exile bolthole should he be forced out of power by another unavoidable military coup, Spotlight Zimbabwe, has been told.
Mnangagwa, is allegedly plotting to disappear from the country into exile once toppled from power by the army or his own ruling Zanu PF party by June 2020, high level sources in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) have revealed.
The multi-million villa, whose actual price has been kept a close guarded secret is situated in Palm Jumeirah island, which is the world’s largest man-made island comprising of a two kilometre long trunk, a crown made up of 17 fronds and a surrounding crescent.
The Palm Jumeirah is an artificial archipelago in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), created using land reclamation by Nakheel which extends into the Persian Gulf. It is part of a larger series of developments called the Palm Islands, including Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira, which, when completed, will together increase Dubai’s shoreline by a total of 520 kilometres.
“Shumba Murambwi (Mnangagwa’s totem) has been offered State protection in the UAE should the need arise, hence the acquisition of the villa through an unnamed third party,” said a senior official at OPC last week.
“His personal friendship with the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, now makes the UAE his preferred destination for retirement or exile. A lot is taking place and the president’s inner circle are planning ahead for any eventuality. They also think that his money will be safe there, because the UAE’s banking system is very secure.”
Another OPC source told Spotlight Zimbabwe, that there was strong suspicion that Mnangagwa’s Dubai villa, could have been purchased for him as a gift by his business and mining associates in the UAE, amid reports that Mnangagwa is reportedly facilitating for investors in that country to come into Zimbabwe to establish new gold mines.
Bloomberg News reported last week, that Harare was in advanced talks with a “key” foreign investor over the establishment of a gold mine that would be triple the size of the largest gold operation currently in the country. Government has not provided any further details about the origins of the foreign investor.
The gold mine will produce 6 metric tons of gold a year, according to the mines ministry.
“The indigenization law, which requires 51 percent control by locals in the major sectors of the economy has been amended. Who do you think is going to benefit from this?” said the OPC source.
“The amendment means only platinum and diamonds remain nationalised. So in essence, foreign nationals are free to come in and engage in gold mining, and can own stakes as high as 100 percent. Investors from Dubai are clearly going to receive preferential treatment in gold, and believe it or not the West is contemplating to remove sanctions against this administration, because they’re losing out big time.”
A recent Reuters analysis, found that ‘billions of dollars’ worth of gold are being smuggled out of Africa every year through the UAE in the Middle East, which has become a gateway to markets in Europe, the United States and beyond.
Customs data gathered by the news agency shows that the UAE imported $15.1 billion worth of gold from Africa in 2016, more than any other country and up from $1.3 billion in 2006.
The customs data provided by governments to Comtrade, a United Nations database, shows the UAE has been a prime destination for gold from many African states for some years. In 2015, China “the world’s biggest gold consumer “imported more gold from Africa than the UAE. But during 2016, the latest year for which data is available, the UAE imported almost double the value taken by China. With African gold imports worth $8.5 billion that year, China came a distant second. Switzerland, the world’s gold refining hub, came third with $7.5 billion worth.
Most of the gold is traded in Dubai, home to the UAE’s gold industry.
According to Luxhabitat, a high-end real estate brokerage company in Dubai, Palm Jumeirah, is a self-declared eighth wonder of the world, it is a man-made palm shaped island.
“The area around the signature villas in Palm Jumeirah is a very interesting place to live and work. This includes a dazzling five-star resort such as the Atlantis hotel and other luxury dining facilities, as well as sophisticated beach clubs. The 4,000 villas and apartments have beautiful sea views and amazing facilities for its residents,” the company’s website states.
“The various amenities available to residents include, but are not restricted to, restaurants, cafes, beaches and a variety of retail outlets. The exterior facades are very diverse with Arabic, Mediterranean, European, Contemporary, Spanish, Balinese and Italian. This allows for its residents with different architectural tastes to choose from a wide breadth of styles. The villas have spacious rooms, high ceilings, cool deep balconies, large gardens and traditional arabesque design mixed in with contemporary style.”
Some of the amenities of the villa, include: Garage, Private elevators, Package room, Security gate, Doorman, Driver’s quarters, High-speed internet and Video security.
The revelations of the Dubai villa, come at a time when there is growing speculation, that Mnangagwa owns a private jet from Dubai, which he charters every time and again to attend international engagements.
Mnangagwa has sought to deny ownership of the jet, maintaining that it is being provided for him and fully paid by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
“The Crown Prince sent us a huge plane to carry us and it returned us (home). I told him that we have a challenge of planes so every time I want to travel I will just call and he will send us the plane. So those who don’t know were just parroting what they don’t know and I just laughed it off,” said Mnangagwa upon his return from a visit to the UAE in March.
Mnangagwa is the country’s richest man, according to Wikileaks cables wrote in 2001 by a US ambassador, although he did not divulge the wealth in figures.
Sources that comprise of the international community, military and business associates suggest that Mnangagwa is worth about US$10.3 Billion.
Mnangagwa has held ministerial positions including security and defence under the late President Robert Mugabe administration since 1980 and currently earns a basic monthly salary of US$18 666 excluding personal and family allowances.
Furthermore he owns a rural mansion built for him by the Chinese in Zvishavane, and is currently building a new costly mansion in Borrowdale, said to include a state of the art underground vault. Mnangagwa already has a home in Borrowdale, which he barely resides.
Mnangagwa’s Zvishavane rural mansion
Mnangagwa’s Borrowdale home
Satellite image of Mnangagwa’s new massive 3.69 hectare Borrowdale mansion
Dubai is increasingly becoming popular with Southern African leaders, as a safe haven to a new life in the aftermath of their presidency. Former South African president, Jacob Zuma, was reported to have purchased a R330 million mansion in Dubai in 2016, allegedly bought for him by the Gupta brothers.
President Mugabe also rented a villa on the same street next to Zuma for his son Robert Junior who was studying in Dubai around 2015, on Lailak Street in Emirates Hills.