THE Minister of Finance and Economic Development Christopher Kuruneri says there is nothing wrong with building a “home” in South Africa because it is an investment.
In an interview on Wednesday Kuruneri, recently propelled into President Robert Mugabe’s government, said he was an investor and, as such, could invest anywhere and in anything that brought financial reward.
“Yes I have a property in South Africa and I have never denied that,” Kuruneri said. “It is an investment and businessmen invest anywhere and in anything they think will bring financial rewards to them. I don’t see anything wrong with that investment.”
Kuruneri has been reported as building a R30 million (about $19,5 billion) mansion in South Africa.
The minister however disputes the figure saying it is closer to R7 million.
Kuruneri said he earned the money while working as a consultant for various firms in Canada, the United States and South Africa.
Recent reports have said the minister is under probe but Kuruneri said he had not been contacted by any “state agent” about his mansion.
Questions have been raised as to why he should build a mansion in South Africa and not in Zimbabwe.
The Sunday Times of South Africa broke the story about the mansion last month, saying Kuruneri was supervising construction of the seaside house situated in Cape Town’s upmarket Llandudno suburb.
The paper said the minister was paying monthly visits to Venture Projects and Associates, the company with the tender to build the house. It is also reliably understood that Kuruneri purchased two other properties in Llandudno, Number 17 Apostle Road and Number 38 Sunset Avenue, and was funding construction of the mansion.
At completion the house will have eight bathrooms and a dining room that accommodates 20 people at any given time. Factoring in improvements and touch-ups, the house is estimated to cost R30 million.
Several other local business executives, musicians and sporting personalities have purchased properties in South Africa, the United Kingdom, United States and Australia. Some of them however claim that they use the houses for business purposes only.
They include former Intermarket Holdings Ltd boss Nicholas Vingirai, NMB Holdings former managing director Julius Makoni, Kingdom Financial Holdings chief Nigel Chanakira, musician Thomas Mapfumo, Zimbabwe national soccer team captain Peter Ndlovu and Telecel boss James Makamba.
Makamba is currently languishing in prison after having been accused of externalising funds by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.