Lawyer says establishing Mugabe's assets will take a long time
(Recasts with Mugabe lawyer)
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
HARARE, Dec 3 (Reuters) - The process of establishing the
assets of the late Robert Mugabe will take some time, his lawyer
said on Tuesday, casting doubt on a state media report that the
former Zimbabwean leader left $10 million and some properties in
Zimbabweans have speculated for years about Mugabe's wealth,
with many assuming that he and his family amassed a vast fortune
- perhaps as much as $1 billion, according to a leaked U.S.
cable from 2001 - during his 37 years in power.
The government-owned Herald newspaper said Mugabe's daughter
Bona Chikowore wrote in October, the month after her father's
death, to the High Court seeking to register the estate.
The paper listed assets including $10 million 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 where Mugabe lived.
The list does not include several farms that he reportedly
owned or a dairy business he ran with his wife Grace, or any
property outside Zimbabwe.
Mugabe's lawyer, Terrence Hussein, told Reuters that the
Master of the High Court would this week appoint an executor to
compile Mugabe's assets and liabilities.
He said the properties listed in the Herald report were not
in Mugabe's name while his rural homestead had no title because
all communal land in Zimbabwe is owned by traditional chiefs.
Blue Roof and another house in Harare are owned by the
ruling ZANU-PF party, although President Emmerson Mnangagwa has
previously promised to transfer them to the Mugabe family.
"The first task of the executor will be to compile assets
and then decide who will be a beneficiary. Therefore the
suggestion that the estate has been finalised is untrue and
misleading. The long drawn-out process has only begun," he said
in response to written questions.
"The 10 cars are a vintage car collection which frankly had
value only to him."
The Herald said Hussein had also asked the court to register
the estate, saying he and the family had not found a will.
Under Zimbabwean law, the estate of a person who dies
intestate is distributed between their spouse and children.
Hussein would not say whether he had written the letter,
saying the matter was before the court. Bona Chikowore did not
answer calls to her mobile phone.
A diplomatic cable from the U.S. Embassy in Harare in 2001
published by WikiLeaks said Mugabe was rumoured to have more
than $1 billion of assets in Zimbabwe and overseas but it had no
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
glimpses of lavish spending.
A legal dispute in 2014 over a $5 million villa in Hong Kong
suggested the family had been buying overseas property. The
government said it owned the house.
Latterly, Mugabe complained about his retirement package and
said he could not afford to maintain 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.
(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe;
Editing by Alison Williams, Catherine Evans and Giles Elgood)
First Published: 2019-12-03 10:16:45
Updated 2019-12-03 18:10:52
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