Summary: Email forward claims that attached photographs of an opulently appointed mansion show the home of President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe (Full commentary below).
Example:(Submitted, July 2008)
Subject: FW: who lives in a house like this?
Imagine who would have such taste and live in such opulence?
An American Billionaire?
A Saudi Prince?
Louis XIV of France?
Savour the pictures then scroll to the bottom of the page to see who owns this Work of Art.
This Mansion is in Harare and belongs to:
The President of Zimbabwe - Robert Mugabe -
while his people starve, and die because of no medical help....and we are asked to help his people over and over again...he and his family live like this.......his GREED kills his people.....
send this to everyone you know, they can send it to everyone they know, soon the world will know what this man is doing to his people.
According to this email forward, a sumptuous mansion featured in a series of attached photographs belongs to President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe. The email claims that while Mugabe lives in such opulent luxury, the ordinary people of Zimbabwe face poverty under his leadership.
However, the mansion depicted in these photographs is not Mugabe's residence at all. In fact, the very same set of photographs has also circulated in protest messages decrying the opulent lifestyles of other political leaders and celebrities. One version claims that the home belongs to President Pervaiz Musharraf of Pakistan. Another claims that the mansion is the home of former Nigerian ruler Ibrahim Babangida. Yet another version suggests that the photographs show the home of former Secretary of Health Care of Azerbaijan, Russia. And, finally, many references, including a YouTube video, claim that the home belongs to Bollywood superstar, Shahrukh Khan.
In fact, all these claims are false. The mansion in the photographs is actually a home located in the wealthy community of Bell Air, Los Angeles. The mansion is available as a location for film, television and commercial shoots and is featured as such on the website of location manager, Toni Maier.
Thus, there is no truth in the story that the mansion in the photographs belongs to Mugabe. And, in any case, an ariel shot of Mugabe's partially completed mansion in Harare shows a building quite different to the one depicted in these photographs.
Some commentators have claimed that the mansion belongs to Mugabe's cousin Philippe Chiyangwa. However, this claim is also untrue. News photographs of Chiyangwa's mansion show a residence with a different style and aspect than that of the mansion shown in the above photographs.
Although the photographs do not show Mugabe's residence, various news reports indicate that, for several years, he has been building himself a lavish mansion while a great many of his people live under terrible conditions. The controversial leader also has other luxurious residences. A 2003 report in The Guardian UK notes:
Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, is building a lavish palace costing £3.75m on the outskirts of the capital, Harare.
Furnishings and security are expected to send the cost to more than £6m at a time when nearly half of Zimbabwe's population is dependent on international food aid.
Its sprawling accommodation includes 25 bedrooms with bathrooms and spas. It is three times the size of the president's official residence, State House, and his adjacent offices.
The mansion, located in the upmarket Borrowdale Brooke area, about 15 miles north of the city centre, is nearing completion. The construction company Energoproject, based in Belgrade, is building the palace.
Mr Mugabe has built smaller mansions in Harare and Zvimba, his birthplace, as well a Chivu, the birthplace of his wife, Grace.
THE Harare City Council has embarked on a multi-billion-dollar project to widen two roads which form a link to President Robert Mugabe's mansion in Helensvale, a report in the Zimbabwe Independent said.
Major civil works have already started to widen Carrick Creagh and Borrowdale Brook roads which link the mansion to Crow-hill Road.