Grace Mugabe Implicated In Upmarket Housing Stands Scandal

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By Mary Taruvinga

FORMER First Lady, Grace Mugabe’s sister Shuvai Gumbochuma has been dragged to court on allegations of grabbing upmarket residential stands belonging to Rumbidzai Ankomah (nee Muzembi) and Xavier Muzembi with a hand from the former.

Gumbochuma is jointly sued with Grace’s relative Farai Mashonganyika.

However, Grace Mugabe has been sucked into the scandal for allegedly using her powers as the First Lady at the time, and arm-twisting Ankomah and Xavier Muzembi to surrender the properties to her two relatives.

Ankomah and Muzembi are demanding US$900 000 as compensation.

Cited as first respondent is Sally Mugabe Height

Housing Co-operative while Arosume Property Development – the developer is the second respondent.

The stand numbers are 91 and 228 Carrick Creagh which plaintiffs were allocated by the housing co-operative after they paid their fees and development and service charges in full.

Ankomah said in November 2004 they joined Sally Mugabe Housing Cooperative, which was developing land in Carrick Creagh, Borrowdale, Harare.

Pursuant to being made to pay the membership fees, all service charges and development costs in full which amounted to US$78, 572, the plaintiffs were allocated two stands – numbers 276 and 277 – in January 2007.

The housing cooperative on various occasions, the latest being through a letter dated April 30, 2021, confirmed that the plaintiffs paid the membership fees, all service and development costs for the two stands in full.

After a re-numbering exercise done by Arosume Property Development, which took over from the original developers, Exodus Development consultancy, the plaintiffs stand numbers 276 and 277 changed to stand 91 and 228. The housing cooperative advised the plaintiffs about the changes in a letter dated June 10, 2007.

Stand 91 measures 8 003 square metres and stand 228 measures 12 098 square metres.

Ankomah said contrary to the position that they had fully paid for the service charges and development costs of the stands, on 17 October 2011, Arosume furnished the plaintiffs with a bill in the sum of US$57 762 for each stand.

They, however, challenged this before they conducted their own investigations, and established the Local Government Minister had issued the two with title deeds.

This was despite that the stands in question were acquired through the then Ministry of Rural and Urban Development and were not part of the commonage.

“As such, there is a possibility that the transfers were of a fraudulent nature especially considering that both the Housing Cooperative and Arosume deny recommending the two to be given title deeds by the Minister of Local government,” said Ankomah in her founding affidavit.

She said after the plaintiffs continued to protest the developments and started investigating the transaction between all the defendants, the housing cooperative and Arosume have advised that through underhand dealings, Grace Mugabe arm-twisted them into allocating the stands to the two who are her relatives.

“The plaintiffs suspect that Arosume’s demand for more development fees was an effort to discourage them from pursuing their properties and mask the corruption involved in swindling the plaintiffs of the stands. This is further emphasised and to reduce the asking price of development fees to US$20 per square meter.

“However, the plaintiffs have not been allocated other stands and they continue to question the additional development fees which are seemingly flexible upon protest of the same.

“The first defendant also confirmed that former First Lady Mrs. Grace Mugabe took plaintiffs’ stands and allocated them to Gumbochuma and Mashonganyika and that “power was at play here.”

The case is pending.