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Inside Chiyangwa's mansion

By Torby Chimhashu

WHEN the controversial Zimbabwean property magnante Phillip Chiyangwa was asked what his new year's resolution for 2007 was, he quipped: "My resolution is to get stinking rich and blow the minds of my detractors apart. The more money I make, the bigger the distance between me and them."

Not one to let money stand between him and a luxurious lifestyle of fast cars, designer suits and plenty female admirers, Chiyangwa appears to have struck his first blow at his "detractors".

The businessman and former legislator is turning a few heads in poverty-hit Zimbabwe with a shiny new sky blue 2006 Bentley GTC Continental (convertible) -- the latest addition to his collection of swankie cars, and claims he will buy a private jet in December.

The stunning two-door, four seater Bentley Continental GTC went sale in 2006 and is valued at a whooping £150 000.

If purchased from South Africa, the car attracts almost double the amount -- a cool R4 million (about £250 000).

Chiyangwa's new Bentley has a top speed of 195 mph, a sophisticated all-wheel drive, state-of-the-art 12-cylinder engine, advanced air suspension and ultra-stiff body structure.

The Continental GTC is powered by W12 twin-turbo charged 6.0-liter engine, which will propel the car to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 195 mph.

He said: "I have worked in my life and should not be worried to spend my money. God has rewarded me for my work. This time I am not making noise about my cars because every time I buy a new one, there are those who want to copy me.

"The Bentley is not the last one. In December I will buy a 60-seater private jet so that those who want to compete with me can see that I am a real businessman worth what I have got."

The flamboyant tycoon said his businesses which include manufacturing train wagons, property and construction, were the source of his vast fortune.

"I am not a dealer or a crook. My money is made cleanly. You are well aware of my business portfolio and its potential. What I am doing is to show what hard work can bring. Why should I be afraid of spending my money?" asked Chiyangwa.

His latest acquisition comes hard on the heels of the purchase a £103,000 5.5-litre, 12-cylinder, twin-turbo Mercedes-Benz S600, bought in April 2006. The top-of-the-range Merc was quickly marked Tsivo, his totem, but which can also mean revenge.

It was bought months after Chiyangwa had been released from the hands of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) who had held and interrogated him on charging of spying for foreign states.

A judge ordered his release and the charges were dropped after he was heavily tortured by state security agents. He was later expelled from the ruling Zanu PF party which he represented as MP for Chinhoyi. He decided not to appeal against the expulsion, choosing to spend more time in church and running his businesses.

Chiyangwa is not worried by the poverty that is around him and makes little attention to the decline of the Zimbabwe economy.

He told New Zimbabwe.com: "I cannot be stopped from buying what I want because of the bad economy. I sympathise with every Zimbabwean who is going through hardships. I have walked that road before. (But) I must also celebrate my success."

Chiyangwa grew up selling vegetables on the dusty streets of Chegutu -- his first car being a dilapidated truck that he used to ferry vegetables for resale to neighbouring communities.
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