Tongues wag as late MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s Highlands mansion is turned into a lodge

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AN upmarket property acquired by government at a cost of US$3,5 million for the late former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, has been turned into a lodge, NewsDay can exclusively reveal.

Tsvangirai served as Prime Minister during the 2009-13 government of national unity (GNU), but moved into the imposing mansion with his wife Elizabeth Macheka, just a year before the end of his tenure.

He continued staying in the property after the end of the GNU and succumbed to colon cancer in February 2018, leaving Macheka occupying the house located at 49 Kew Drive in Highlands.

The majestic two-storey mansion — located in Harare’s leafy Highlands suburbs — boasts a huge guest house and a spacious garage.

The property was purchased by Treasury from South Africa-based Justin Davenport in 2007 after the late former President Robert Mugabe approved the deal.

Private architects and contractors were engaged by government to revamp the H-shaped mansion in the A-list neighbourhood of Highlands, according to Tsvangirai’s specifications amid reports of double dipping, but the latter denied the allegations and Mugabe ordered police to drop the investigations.

NewsDay could not independently verify whether Tsvangirai had purchased the house or it was handed to him as a golden handshake.

NewsDay yesterday, however, established that the mansion had been turned into a lodge after controversial televangelist Chris Okafor was accommodated at the property during his four-day stay in the country last week.

Contacted for comment, Tsvangirai’s widow, Elizabeth, referred questions to her lawyer Harrison Nkomo, who confirmed that the house had, indeed, been turned into an Airbnb lodge.

Airbnb is an online marketplace that connects people wishing to rent out their homes with people looking for accommodation in specific locations.

“Ms Tsvangirai has been trying to raise funds and has turned her house into an Airbnb and the bookings are done through a registered company that she formed,” Nkomo said.

“There was nothing amiss for her to book Okafor. Anyone, even the President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) or anyone from the Citizens Coalition for Change can book it,” Nkomo added.

Businesswoman Zodwa Mkandla, who facilitated Okafor’s visit, confirmed that the Nigerian pastor stayed at the luxurious mansion during his four-day stay in Zimbabwe.

“It is now a lodge,” Mkandla said, although she could not disclose how much they were charged.

Tsvangirai’s son, Vincent, however, said he was not aware that the house had been turned into a lodge since the distribution of his father’s estate has not been finalised.

“I’m not aware of the Highlands house being turned into a lodge. Myself and my sibling are still waiting to finalise the affairs of the Morgan Tsvangirai estate. That it has become a lodge, maybe you may need to contact Elizabeth Macheka (Tsvangirai). This is news to me. But from the pictures you have sent, that is definitely Highlands and I am even sh0cked,” he said.

On his death, Tsvangirai was granted a State-assisted funeral which saw government taking over all expenses leading to his burial.

The State dispatched two helicopters to accompany Tsvangirai’s body to his final resting place in rural Buhera, Manicaland province.

— NewsDay


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