Crown Princely Villa in Mozambique: ‘A Royal Mess’
The holiday villa of the prince of Orange in Mozambique is causing more problems than expected by the prince and his wife. As newspaper ‘De Volkskrant’ reported on Saturday, that many things went wrong with the Crown Princely family’s building project in nature area Machangulo, on a peninsula in Mozambique. The project has now turned into such a mess that the Dutch prime minister J.P. Balkenende advised the prince to move his private investments to a ‘safe’ foundation.
The new foundation, called ‘Stichting Administratiekantoor Machangulo’ (foundation administration office Machangulo) is located at Noordeinde Palace in The Hague. New problems around the project are now an issue of the foundation, not of the crown prince. Added to that, before taking any serious steps around this project the prince has to ask approval of the members of the foundation and of the prime minister. According to the Government information service (RVD) this comparable to the procedure that government ministers have to follow to secure their business interests.
The project already saw a lot of setbacks. Project developer Dave Dahlmann all of a sudden vanished into thin air after it became clear he had committed fraud in the past. He did not open separate bank account for the project Machangulo. The millions that were invested by the ‘happy few’ ended up at the bank account of Dahlmann’s 21 year old daughter. It is not clear how much money disappeared and whose money it was. Several investors in the project, among them friends of the prince, didn’t take any risk and immediately sold their share of the project to somebody else.
Another problem was architect John Fleming. In South Africa, he, the prince of Orange and princess Máxima spent a lot of time in designing the houses. But in an e-mail Fleming writes that he made a ‘Royal Mess’, the building preparations didn’t succeed at all and the prince and the investors took another architect.
According to newspaper ‘De Telegraaf’ Dutch prime minister Jan-Peter Balkenende had a lot of objections against the villa, which was the reason why he took over control of the project. It is a politically sensitive project and it is also damaging for the reputation of the crown prince and his wife. One of the issues is that the villa is so far away from the Netherlands, and in a third world country. This makes security extra difficult and expensive and another worry is that the medical standards are insufficient in Mozambique. An additional risk is that the prince and his entire family takes a chartered Cessna plane (with only one engine) to travel the 1000 kilometers from Johannesburg to Maputo.
Another issue is the wish of the prince and princess that the local inhabitants of Machangulo should benefit from the project, A school, hospital and several other services will be built. However, at the moment the locals benefit very little from the project, the builders all come from South Africa and Asia and not from Mozambique. In the press the project was compared to colonialism, and some claim that while the happy few build a big fence around their paradise, the rest of Mozambique is living under very poor circumstances.
Members of parliament have sent a long list of questions to the prime minister about this project. The prime minister hopes to answer these questions in a few weeks.
The controversy around the villa comes while the prince is in the middle of a lawsuit against press agency AP about pictures that were taken in Argentina. Earlier this year it also became clear that the prince bought properties in the south of Argentina. In 2008 it became clear that the prince wanted to build a house in Mozambique, which was heavily criticized in the press and by members of parliament.Filed under The Netherlands
Tagged King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands, Mozambique, Parliament, Prime Minister Balkenende of the Netherlands, Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, Residences.