By John Chimunhu
President Robert Mugabe’s former close associate Phillip Chiyangwa has been named Zimbabwe’s second richest man on a controversial new list published by the shadowy X Research and Intelligence.
The list, which claims telecommunications mogul and Econet founder Strive Masiyiwa is the richest Zimbabwean has, however been hotly disputed. Masiyiwa himself has discredited the X report, revealing that he owns less than half of Econet, although more credible reports have put his net worth at more than $350 million.
Chiyangwa made a lot of his money through corruption, getting numerous concessions by claiming to be Mugabe’s relative. Mugabe has since said he is not related to Chiyangwa, although both of them share the Gushungo totem and come from Zvimba in Mashonaland West province. This was after reports emerged that Chiyangwa had had sex with Mugabe’s wife Grace Mugabe, an affair that started after another of the first lady’s lovers and Chiyangwa’s friend Peter Pamire was murdered on the dictator’s orders.
Chiyangwa is believed to be still a business front for Grace Mugabe. However, he set up his now-thriving property business by buying up worthless Harare City Council industrial land for a song and then swapping it for prime residential land in the suburbs and reselling it for millions of dollars. The deals were facilitated by Chiyangwa’s Zvimba homeboy Elijah Chanakira when he was chairperson of a commission running Harare following the dismissal of former mayor Solomon Tawengwa for corruption. Chiyangwa gave Chanakira various kickbacks for the favours, including building a house for him next to his Ballantyne Park, Harare mansion.
Chiyangwa also seized numerous white-owned farms during Zanu PF’s chaotic land grab and is now converting these into residential areas, charging as much as $4 000 per stand for land that he got free under the ruling party’s patronage system. Chiyangwa got the farms with the assistance of former local government minister and Zvimba homeboy Ignatius Chombo.
The X report does not say how much Chiyangwa is worth. However, Chiyangwa himself has previously claimed he was worth $250 million. However, this is not backed up by any tax records to prove his real income.
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