FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe has reportedly renewed plans to evict over 200 families at Manzou Farm in Mazowe district — a year after she forcibly evicted over 700 other families from the property in a bid to turn the vast farmland into a private game sanctuary.
Villagers who declined to be named for fear of victimisation said hordes of police officers driving Nissan UD trucks had been visiting the farm since last Wednesday ordering them to vacate the area.
“They (police) have been coming here ordering us to leave the farm. This is despite the fact that government has not allocated us alternative land as ordered by the High Court last year,” said one villager who is facing eviction.
“We have been tipped that the police intend to come tomorrow [today] in large numbers and destroy our homes to force us out of the farm. We are very worried about the timing of such evictions which always come during the summer cropping season.”
However, police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba yesterday said she was not aware of the matter.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba could not be reached for comment yesterday.
In March last year, heavily armed police stormed the area and razed villagers’ homes and forced them out of the farm.
The families were later dumped in Rushinga and at Lazy Farm and Blagdon Farm in Concession.
Five of the villagers approached the High Court which ruled that, the villagers, most of whom had moved on the farm at the height of the chaotic land reform in 2000, had the right to stay at the property until government provided alternative land.
Their stay at Manzou Game Park had been protected by the 2006 Rural Land Occupiers Act.
They had tried to engage government to regularise their stay to no avail until Grace identified the land for the expansion of the Mugabe empire in Mazowe. Grace a few months ago confirmed that she wanted to build a secondary school, hospital and university to be named after her husband, President Robert Mugabe.
The First Family already owns a vast dairy project, Gushungo Dairies, an orphanage centre and an elite primary school in the area.
The First Lady also recently reportedly grabbed 1 500 hectares from Interfresh Holdings which houses the Mazowe Citrus Estate.
During her Meet the People Tour rallies last year, Grace said she was unapologetic for grabbing land, claiming she took away disused land and that she wanted the First Family to lead by example and show the nation that the land reform programme was not a fluke.
Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs minister Martin Dinha had pledged to allocate Grace more land as long as she requested it.
The Mugabe family is one of the many multiple farm owners in the country despite the government policy which does now allow multiple ownership of farms.
High Court judge Justice Ben Hlatshwayo was in 2008 elbowed out of his Gwina Farm north of Harare by the Mugabe family while former Standard Chartered Bank chief executive Washington Matsaira met the same fate on his Nyabira Farm.