FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe has courted controversy by allegedly pushing for the eviction of more than 50 resettled farmers close to her orphanage in Mazowe to make way for a game park.
Report by Elias Mambo
This is the second time Grace has had resettled farmers forcefully evicted in Mazowe after first kicking farmers out to make way for the construction of her orphanage last year.
Residents were furious that Grace invaded already developed and legally acquired land to erect her orphanage instead of looking for virgin land like that they were forcefully relocated to. The evicted families have expressed outrage that they were not given alternative plots but were just being told to go back where they came from.
“We have been around this place for a long time only to be told to leave without being offered alternative land or compensation,” said a disgruntled farmer speaking anonymously. “How does she expect us to build our homes without compensation? The Mugabes have a penchant for grabbing. They grabbed farms and now it is our land. We do not know where to go now because we left our original villages years ago.”
Last year some residents who bought stands in 1998 were issued with eviction letters and promised alternative accommodation and compensation, but nothing has materialised to date. Even Justice Ben Hlatshwayo has also been a victim of eviction by Grace.
Regis Chikowore, a director in the Media, Information and Publicity ministry, said his office is not aware of the evictions.
“Our office is not aware of such evictions but if there is anything going on, the affected farmers have to seek advice from their provincial resettlement board,” said Chikowore. “I think they were issued with notices a long time ago,” he said.
Many resettled farmers are now facing fresh evictions spearheaded by chiefs, Zanu PF politicians and senior government officials countrywide.
Last month Mugabe and the Zanu PF politburo were forced to intervene after senior party officials, war veterans and army generals invaded the Save Conservancy.