FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe is set to expand her vast empire amid reports she is planning to build a hotel at Manzou Farm in Mazowe, where she also intends to set up a private game park at the expense of villagers who have been living there since 2000.
According to reliable family sources, Grace, whose new imposing mansion at nearby Mapfeni Farm is all but complete,aims to build a hotel which she hopes would attract visitors or tourists to the game park.
The sources said Grace would engage Chinese contractors to build the hotel. The Chinese have been the major contractors of most of Grace’s properties including the Amai Mugabe Junior School, also in Mazowe.
As part of her expansion drive, Grace seized Manzou Farm in 2011 and has over the years unsuccessfully tried to evict 200 families who invaded the land at the onset of the land reform programme in 2000.
However, High Court Justice Erica Ndewere in January provisionally barred government from evicting the villagers
without providing them alternative land.
This was after police had descended on the villagers and burnt their homes in an attempt to force them off the land, raising a public outcry. The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority also moved in some zebras onto the farm and threatened to bring in lions and elephants in an attempt to force villagers off the property to
pave way for Grace’s project.
“The First Lady is planning on setting up a hotel once the Manzou takeover is finalised.
She wants to build the hotel as soon as the Manzou villagers are moved and settled elsewhere,” said the source.
In August last year Grace publicly lashed out at former Justice deputy minister and current Mazowe South legislator, Fortune Chasi, accusing him of opposing her bid to acquire more land in the area.
If plans to construct the hotel succeed, it would add to her empire which includes large tracts of land in Mazowe district. The First Family also has a state-of-the-art dairy, Gushungo Holdings, which trades as Alpha Omega Dairy (Pvt) Ltd, also in Mazowe.
It has an imposing mansion, commonly referred to as the “Blue Roof” in the upmarket Borrowdale Brooke area of
In addition, the Mugabe family owns multiple farms and has accumulated as many as 15, some of which were grabbed
from prominent individuals and companies. These include Gwina farm in Banket, acquired from Justice Ben Hlatshwayo in 2009, and land grabbed from horticultural concern Interfresh in 2013.
The Mugabes also reportedly have overseas residences which include the hotly disputed £4 million Hong Kong villa where their daughter, Bona, stayed during her days nas a student at a university in that country and is currently the subject of a legal fight.