A MAN whose residential stand was eaten up by President Robert Mugabe’s sprawling new mansion in the plush Borrowdale neighbourhood is to be compensated with two stands by the Harare City Council on the orders of Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo.
The government compulsorily annexed the land in the exclusive Borrowdale Brookes estate, about 18 miles north of Harare, for a “priority project”.
According to a matter on the Harare City Council’s agenda for its meeting on Thursday, Chombo wrote to the council on August 25 last year directing that the resident, identified only as Mr O Chitsinde, be given two stands in the posh Greystone suburb for his loss.
The council minutes say Chitsinde lost 12,128 hectares of land to Mugabe located in Helensvale, Borrowdale. According to Chombo’s directive, the council should compensate him with stand numbers 882 and 883 in Honnington Close, Greystone Park.
“The government expropriated the stand for a priority project. The Ministry of Local Government Rural and Urban Development had directed council to compensate him with the above mentioned stands,” reads the agenda of the council’s meeting.
Harare councillor Warship Dumba on Wednesday said the council would discuss the possibility of sending a bill to the government.
Chitsinde was not the only evictee forced to give way for Mugabe’s retirement home which, when complete, is thought would cost up of £5 million.
Construction began in 2006 with at least 15 residents receiving written warnings that their houses would be confiscated by the state.
The letters said in part: “This serves to advise you that your property falls in a designated security area in terms of general notice of 255 of 2004, and we will be in contact with you soon with a view to inspecting your house for valuation purposes."
The UK’s Telegraph newspaper published aerial pictures of the mansion still under construction in 2006. The paper said it is probably the largest private dwelling in Africa.
According to the newspaper, the property has three floors amounting to approximately four acres. It has a ballroom, media complex and 24 bedrooms.
The Chinese-styled palace overlooks dams and a newly-planted 50-acre garden protected by a 12ft wall.
The interior includes a Moroccan-style public room plastered by north African craftsmen. Original Chinese decorations have been used in several other public rooms, the Telegraph said.