Fact Check

Mugabe Mansion

Photographs show a mansion belonging to Filipino senator Manny Villar?

Published Jul 14, 2008

Claim:   Photographs show a mansion belonging to Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, July 2008]

This will knock your socks off!!!!!!!!

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.

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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.


Variations:   A February 2010 variant sited the pictured mansion in Salt Lake City and attributed ownership to presidential candidate Sen. Manny of the Philippines.

Origins:   In the mid-2000s, the South African press had been reporting for several years that Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, was building a personal luxury retirement villa just outside the Zimbabwean capital of Harare. A 2003 article described the in-progress mansion thusly:

The house with its 25 bedrooms in Borrowdale Brook Lane, an upmarket suburb in northern Harare, is being completed in haste because Mugabe allegedly wants to move in there when he retires.

The retirement villa is about three times the size of Mugabe's current official residence and offices. Each of the rooms in the house apparently has a different theme, for example an Arabic room, Chinese rooms and a section in the French style. It is not known whether there is a British room.

Four artisans from Morocco have apparently been carving the dome of the banquet hall for more than a year. The dome can be compared to the dome decorations of Saddam Hussain's palaces in Iraq.

A 2005 article stated that the finishing touches were being applied to the mansion after three years of construction:

It took three years to complete the house.

According to Mugabe, the mansion was not built with ratepayers' money but with donations from countries such as Serbia (the construction work), Malaysia (which donated the wood), China (the roof tiles and also the design of the house).

However, it is not clear where the money came from for the Italian marble, the finest crystal from Europe, the sunken jacuzzis and carpets from the East.

The mansion has 25 bedrooms, a flat for each of the three Mugabe children, a helipad, swimming pools and servants' quarters.

Two artificial lakes form part of the extensive gardens.

The house is three times bigger than State House, official residence of the country's head of state

In 2008, the photographs displayed above began circulating in e-mail forwards that described them as pictures of Mugabe's completed retirement villa.
However, even in the absence of additional identifying information about the source of the images, the claim that they were photographs of Robert Mugabe's

mansion was doubtful given that they had also been claimed over the years as depicting the lavish digs of a number of other celebrities and political figures around the world, such as former Nigerian military ruler Ibrahim Babangida, Indian film star Shahrukh Khan, Universal Church of the Kingdom of God founder Edir Macedo, former Secretary of Health Care of Azerbaijan, and (in 2010) Senator Manny Villar of the Philippines.

In fact, these photographs actually depict a home half a world away from Zimbabwe, a mansion in the tony Bel Air section of Los Angeles that has been extensively photographed inside and out because it is sometimes used as the site of location shooting for television programs and movies.

Last updated:   24 February 2010


    Brennan, Paul.   "Mugabe's Mansion: Fact or Fiction?"

    Sky News.   8 April 2008.

    Gibson, Erika.   "Mugabe Set for R74m Mansion."

    News24.   28 February 2005.

    Louw, Barnie.   "Mugabe to Retire in Style."

    News24.   27 August 2003.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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