ZIMBABWE – PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace, who is embroiled in controversy over a succession of land grabs in Mazowe, has now taken over another farm in the area, allegedly displacing hundreds of families and ordering the destruction of a newly constructed service station within the farm.
Grace is building an opulent three-storey mansion at Mapfeni Farm, which is opposite her orphanage and the Amai Mugabe Junior School in Mazowe where she evicted close to 300 families in 2012. The mansion is nearing completion.
Mapfeni Farm stretches from Mazowe Hotel to Mazowe High School along the Old Mazowe Road.
Investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent revealed that all farmers resettled on the farm during the chaotic land reform programme that started in 2000 have been booted out.
“The Chinese started constructing this house in mid-January last year and they have hardly stopped; as you can see they are putting final touches to the roof,” said a resettled farmer who was evicted and now stays close to Bindura.
When the Zimbabwe Independent arrived at the farm on Wednesday, Chinese contractors were busy putting final touches to the roof of the impressive mansion.
The entrance to the residence, which was heavily guarded by army, police and plain clothes security officers, has two conical towers similar to the Great Zimbabwe towers on either side of the gate.
The two towers are built with granite rock without mortar. A high security wall, just over two metres high, has been erected.
Top government sources said Grace ordered riot police to demolish the filling station after the owner had threatened to take the matter to the courts.
“Police were called from Glendale and Mvurwi to assist their Mazowe colleagues destroy the garage,” said the source. “They arrived in the morning armed with pick handles and they tore down the whole service station’s garage including new pumps which had been installed.”
Mugabe’s family has been linked to the on-going eviction of over 900 families at Manzou Farm in Mazowe, amid reports that the First Family wants to annex the property and turn it into a wildlife sanctuary.
This follows a similar raid in 2013 where police evicted a traditional healer, Mary Kazunga, believed to be a spirit medium of liberation war heroine Mbuya Nehanda, and close to 300 other families in Mazowe.
The First Lady has also grabbed Mazowe Citrus Estate, taking over 800 hectares of land belonging to Interfresh. Grace’s land grabs have left Interfresh tottering on the brink of collapse, while investors were scurrying for cover fearing their money would sink in an increasingly unviable enterprise being destroyed by the unceasing land confiscations.
Documents seen by the Zimbabwe Independent at the time showed Interfresh had total land holdings of 3 800 hectares. Grace had taken 870 hectares (23%), leaving Interfresh with 2 930 hectares (77%).
.At the height of the land reform programme, Mugabe castigated his inner circle for multiple farm ownership, advocating a “one man, one farm” policy.
Just a fortnight ago, Mugabe railed against security chiefs who have grabbed Save Conservancy, accusing them of being greedy after benefitting from the land reform programme.
But in a typical Orwellian fashion, the Mugabes are amassing land in Mashonaland Central province in violation of the “one man, one farm” credo.
In January, the Mugabes took over Spelenken Farm, also in Mazowe. Heavily armed police arrived at the farm as early as 4am and had by 2pm loaded up settlers onto police trucks and drove them off to unknown destinations.
“The whole Mazowe area now belongs to the First Family. The land stretches from Westgate along old Mazowe road, and now Mapfeni has been taken over, so have Mazowe dam and Interfresh land,” said another evicted farmer.
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs in Mashonaland Central Martin Dinha has publicly promised the Mugabes more land in his province.
“The land is no longer sufficient to sustain the projects the First Lady has on her sleeves,” Dinha said at the official opening of the Amai Mugabe Junior School at the orphanage centre.
“We are working on the papers to stretch the land so that she can have more land to do her projects. Some people might say ‘The First Lady is greedy, why does she want more land?’, but we are saying it is justified for her to have more land.”
Efforts to get comment from Dinha were fruitless as calls went unanswered and text messages were not responded to.