By Peta Thornycroft | IOL |
Zimbabwe’s free-spending first family this week upped their lavish game when Russell Goreraza, Grace Mugabe’s first-born son from an earlier marriage, imported two luxury cars worth an estimated R70 million.
The move angered many impoverished Zimbabwean families who are battling to put food on the table in a country with rampant unemployment and worsening poverty.
Goreraza, 34, this week imported two Rolls-Royce Ghosts, estimated to cost $280 000 each before import duties, from Europe.
Zimbabwe’s former finance minister and opposition leader Tendai Biti expressed outrage over the first family’s latest extravagance.
“Nearly 80% of Zimbabweans are living in extreme poverty and we have this insane first family, the Mobutu Sese Sekos of our time, squandering taxpayers’ money on houses for Grace in South Africa and now Rolls-Royces for her son,” Biti said.
Biti added that Goreraza, like Grace’s other sons, was unable to pass a single school-leaving exam but, through his mother’s position, had established some links into the mining industry and a “fantastic” lifestyle.
Goreraza is heard telling pals in a video that has gone viral that his next vehicle, due to arrive in Harare shortly, is an Aston Martin.
Biti questioned the logic of importing such luxury cars to navigate the treacherous Zimbabwean roads. “This family are toxic parasites. What is Russell going to do with his Rolls-Royces on the potholed roads around Harare? What kind of a person would want to be seen in a Rolls-Royce among such unprecedented poverty in Zimbabwe? He must be mad,” Biti said.
Outspoken Zanu-PF legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena echoed Biti’s scorn of Goreraza’s “pricey acquisitions”, tweeting a picture of the sleek Rolls-Royce, with a stinging caption: “Only the connected thrive in a country where youth are begging for opportunities to earn an honest living.”
Goreraza, born to Grace when she was married to her first husband, Stanley Goreraza, has a fast-living reputation. Like his two younger brothers, Robert Jr, 25, and Chatunga, 21, sons of President Robert Mugabe, he has a chequered reputation and was previously found guilty of culpable homicide after he ran over and killed a pedestrian in central Harare.
He is a regular visitor to Joburg and stays in the Coronation Road, Sandhurst, mansion which his mother rents from an Angolan couple who have left the country to go and live in Portugal.
Around the corner from the rented house, in Killarney Road, Sandhurst, is the massive, attractive mansion Grace bought in May for more than R40m and which Russell signed for via a shelf company which owns the property.
His half-brothers, Robert Jr and Chatunga, are also supposed to live in this house, but the pair have, in the last few weeks, rented another flat for entertaining friends at 20 West Street, Sandton, which is where their mother allegedly beat up Gabriella Engels, 20, last month.
There are about a dozen Zimbabwean security guards employed at Grace’s rented property.
It was not clear whether she had paid for the guards or if the Zimbabwean government had paid for them.
Goreraza regularly applied for visas to visit the US but was again turned down this week when the rest of the Mugabe family and 70 other government officials went to the UN General Assembly in the one remaining, ageing international aircraft owned by bankrupt Air Zimbabwe.
Grace’s lawyers from the Zimbabwe Embassy appeared in the high court in Pretoria on Tuesday over charges that she beat up and injured Engels last month.
Engels claims that Grace beat her and two of her friends with an extension cord.
She was treated in hospital the same night and made a statement to the police.
AfriForum wants the Zimbabwean first lady’s diplomatic immunity over the alleged assault reversed.