President Robert Mugabe’s empire is set to continue expanding following a pledge yesterday by Mashonaland Central governor Martin Dinha to give the First Family more land in the province.
Report by Everson Mushava
The pledge by Dinha comes shortly after the First Family took over 1 600 hectares of Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed agro-producer Interfresh’s Mazoe Citrus Estate in the same province.
Addressing mainly Zanu PF officials, supporters and diplomats at the official opening of a state-of-the-art Amai Grace Mugabe Junior School, Dinha said if the First Family still needed land for more projects in the province, he would gladly provide it.
“I would like to thank you (Mugabe and his wife Grace) for building this school in Mazoe,” Dinha said.
“We offered you land and we will continue to offer you land for other projects if you want it. We will do it in broad daylight and we are not ashamed of it. Detractors can say what they want, they can write what they want, but this is our land in Mashonaland Central and we will do what we want with it.”
Referring to Interfresh, Dinha said the company had failed to run the citrus farm hence the decision to take it and give it to the First Family.
The Mugabes also own Gushungo Dairy Estate in Mazoe, formally Foyle Farm.
Dinha said he was happy the school had been built at a place where it is believed the legendary Zimbabwe spirit medium Mbuya Nehanda used to stay and close to a place known as Baradzanwa where she was allegedly hanged by the colonial masters in the
late 1890s for her resistance to colonialism.
However, there has been confusion over the exact site where Nehanda was hanged with some historians arguing that she met her fate at a tree along Josiah Tongogara Avenue in Harare which fell last year.
Apart from the primary school, Grace is reported to be harbouring ambitions to build a high school, a university and a hospital. There were also plans to establish a wildlife sanctuary in Manzou, among other projects on part of the land taken from Interfresh.
Families who had been resettled at Manzuo, formally a National Park before the land reform programme in 2000, have already been evicted to make way for the game park.
Mugabe’s family is also reported to have taken over award-winning Gwina farm near Banket.
Mugabe already owns the 1 100-acre Highfield farm in Darwendale near his Zvimba home, which he bought.He is believed to have proceeded to take over five more neighbouring farms from white commercial owners between 2000 and 2008.
Efforts to get comment from the Ministry of Lands on how many farms the First Family now owns yielded no results yesterday as the ministry was said to have no electronic database, but hard copy files of offer letters.
Unconfirmed reports say Mugabe owns up to 13 farms while his close relatives, wife and in-laws own a total of 26 farms, to bring the total to 39.