The 25-bedroom private house, built by a Serbian construction company Energoproject to a Chinese architectural design, has two lakes in its 44 acre landscaped grounds and is protected by a multi-million pounds radar system.
Approach roads to the mansion, topped by a Chinese-style roof clad in midnight blue tiles from Shanghai, are off limits to the general public.
It is understood that some 50 police riot response officers guard the Mugabe palace on a 24- hour basis in cooperation with the much-feared Central Intelligence Organisation, CIO.
Sources in the President’s office told reporters that chemical and biological sensors are strategically positioned on all approaches to the mansion, around 30 kilometres north of the centre of Harare.
“The sensors are supplemented with radiological detection equipment, including radiation pagers on the belts of some of the law enforcement officers,” the presidential source said. “CAAZ (the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe) is policing the area above the house [by helicopter and spotter plane] to ensure that it is a no-fly zone. In addition, the CIO is providing dogs that can sniff out explosives.”
The project, which took three years to complete, is the most visible symbol of how Mugabe and his acolytes have prospered while more than five million of his 11.5 million people are near starvation and will need food aid this year, according to the World Food Programme.
Some 80 per cent of Mugabe’s fellow countrymen are unemployed and those with factory jobs earn an average wage equivalent to about 11 dollars a month.
The size of the house dwarfs by three times the size of State House, the home of the head of state and earlier British governors. Its interior decoration by South African, Arab and Chinese designers is being supervised by 81-year-old Mugabe’s 40-year-old wife, Grace. Its size and expense raises the question of how Mugabe paid for it, since his annual salary until recently was only the equivalent of 44,000 dollars a year.
Opposition MPs have unsuccessfully asked in parliament where Mugabe got the foreign currency to import materials from Europe, the Middle East and China. Zimbabwe has suffered a foreign exchange crisis as a result of the country’s economic collapse, which has seen gross domestic product drop for each of the past seven successive years.
"No extravagance has been spared on the three-storey palace. Marble has been imported from Italy. The finest European crystal, sunken baths with Jacuzzi fittings and oriental rugs are all part of the décor. The soaring ceilings were decorated by Arab craftsmen"
The president was clearly agitated when, in an interview with Sky News reporter Stuart Ramsey broadcast in Britain last year, he denied that the mansion had been built with Zimbabwean taxpayer’s money.
The source declined to confirm whether Mugabe and his wife have moved into the house, but added that residents in the area of the palace are being subjected to regular security checks.
No extravagance has been spared on the three-storey palace. Marble has been imported from Italy. The finest European crystal, sunken baths with Jacuzzi fittings and oriental rugs are all part of the décor. The soaring ceilings were decorated by Arab craftsmen.