A HIGH-POWERED delegation from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) will today visit Mashonaland Central as part of ongoing investigations into alleged human rights abuses linked to First Lady Grace Mugabe’s business expansion activities.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Impeccable sources told NewsDay last week that ZHRC chairperson Elasto Mugwadi will lead the delegation that will meet with Mashonaland Provincial Affairs minister Martin Dinha to discuss the violent removal of villagers at Manzou Farm. The removals were reportedly meant to pave way for Grace to expand her sprawling business empire.
“A team of commissioners and part of the secretariat will be visiting Manzou on Tuesday next week (today) and have agreed with Dinha on the meeting. A meeting of the ZHRC last week resolved to send a delegation to try and meet with government officials who refused to meet investigators last month,” NewsDay heard.
Over 200 villagers were last month forced off Manzou Farm and dumped in the bush along the Harare-Chirundu Road.
Dinha yesterday would neither deny nor confirm the meeting.
“The ZHRC is a government body and we are ready to meet them anytime. I however, have not been briefed about the meeting, but must say we would not have any problem with it,” he said. “If anything, I must thank the NewsDay for the stories you published last month. I had been doing a lot of travelling and had not been aware that the commission was looking for me.”
After promising to issue a statement on the issue and provide details, Dinha ducked, sending NewsDay from pillar to post before his phone was switched off.
Mugwadi was not available for comment yesterday as his mobile phone went unanswered, but last month confirmed that the ZHRC was investigating allegations of rights abuses by government officials.
“Our aim is to meet with Provincial Affairs minister Martin Dinha, the chief lands officer and officer-in-charge Mazowe Police Station for us to understand what is going on,” he said then.
The ZHRC boss also confirmed that a report had been received about a man who was left with a gouged eye after an attack on the villagers by a team comprising police and military personnel. The team according to Mugwadi had failed to meet with Dinha and the other officials or visit the victims.
“Our team could not meet with the victims. But we have impressed them to make every effort to locate the family and interview them. I have been informed that the family was also referred to a private hospital, but we still need finer details of the case.”
After they sent investigators to Mazowe, ZHRC later seemed to buckle under pressure, but indications were that the commission might seek a conclusion on the emotive issue. There was no indication yesterday as to whether the ZHRC would seek a meeting with the First Lady.