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Tsvangirai faces boot from Highlands mansion

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s woes continue to mount amid reports the former premier is broke and failing to maintain the plush government Highlands mansion in which he has been living since being appointed prime minister in the unity government which ended last year, while he faces eviction.

Elias Mambo

The Highlands Mansion
The Highlands Mansion

Sources close to the former premier said this week he is struggling to maintain the house, although he is desperate to keep it.
When the Zimbabwe Independent visited the premises yesterday, reporters observed the property is now deteriorating.

The lawn and some of the vegetation outside the house were in a bad state because of the summer heat, lack of water and neglect.

The property has no borehole and Tsvangirai is reportedly struggling to buy bulk water to water flowers and the lawn, whereas during the inclusive government era, government maintained the mansion.

Tsvangirai’s spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka, however, said the state of the house was not important, but rather focus should be on the state of the economy.

Tsvangirai at home
Tsvangirai at home

“The house has nothing to do with the national crisis Zimbabwe finds itself in. Government is failing to pay civil servants on time and Zimbabweans are struggling to put food on the table; so it does not matter much if someone visits and says you did not sweep the floor or water the gardens especially when Zanu PF has no solution to the economic malaise affecting this country,” he said.

Tsvangirai has reportedly sought meetings with Mugabe several times to encourage government to sell the house to him, but Mugabe has turned down requests for meetings, initially citing Tsvangirai’s failure to acknowledge his July 31 general elections last year.

Top official sources said Tsvangirai has been calling Munhumutapa and State House seeking an appointment with Mugabe, but to no avail.

“He is becoming increasingly concerned with acquiring the Highlands mansion,” said a source. “He is living in suspense because government has not made it clear whether it intends to evict him or sell the house to him. There is clearly psychological warfare here.”

Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba said the house remained government property which could be allocated at any given time, fuelling Tsvangirai’s insecurity as a sitting tenant.

“It is not the president who does not want Tsvangirai to have that house,” Charamba said. “Some time last year when this issue was raised in government, Tsvangirai indicated that he will not be bribed by a house so as to accept that he lost elections to Mugabe; so if anyone applies for that house through the government house scheme, Tsvangirai will surely be evicted.”

Tamborinyoka denied that his boss is trying to meet Mugabe over the Highlands home.

“There is nothing like that. The house still remains a state house until everything is sorted out. As of now, no talks concerning it have taken place,” Tamborinyoka said.

The house was bought by the state at a time Tsvangirai was serving as the country’s premier under a shaky coalition arrangement sponsored by regional power broker Sadc following a sham presidential poll run-off in June 2008.

The purchase of the house was mired in controversy amid claims the MDC-T leader “double-dipped” after receiving money from Treasury and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to purchase the property.

At the expiry of the inclusive government, the house was not included in his exit package although there was an agreement that he could purchase it if he so wished.

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