Suspected Zanu PF militia guarding Arnold Farm in Mazowe yesterday reportedly assaulted some villagers and gave them 24 hours to leave the property which was allegedly grabbed by First Lady Grace Mugabe.
BY EVERSON MUSHAVA/OBEY MANAYITI
The militia also pounced on the hapless villagers on Sunday, destroying their vegetable gardens to force them off the farm to pave way for the expansion of the First Family’s business empire.
But yesterday, the militia was more violent and forceful, assaulting villagers and ordering them off the farm.
Some villagers, who refused to be named for security reasons, told NewsDay that a group of six “police officers” came and assaulted one villager, Livingstone Chirimumimba, and another one only identified as Catherine.
They allegedly slapped them.
“They also attacked businessman Christopher Sosono with sticks, ordering him to shut his grinding mill so that the villagers would starve and move out. They also gave him a 24-hour eviction notice. The six only retreated into the nearby mountain after about 60 villagers assembled and charged towards them. I think they thought we wanted to fight back.
“We did not want to attack them. We were simply implementing what our lawyer (Donza Nkomo, from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights) advised us. He told us that we should follow them wherever they go and take note of what they are doing.”
The villagers said the “police officers” were on the mountain for over one and a half hours until they eventually came down.
“Soon after they came down, they appeared to have been caucusing on their next move and we don’t know what will happen to us in the next few days.”
One villager added: “We have not eaten anything since morning. We don’t know what to do. We don’t have anywhere to go.”
Since 2014, villagers at Arnold Farm have had endless running battles with police officers who sometimes burnt and destroyed their houses to force them out for Grace, who reportedly wants to turn the vast farm into a private wildlife sanctuary for her family.
The villagers, buoyed by a High Court verdict made in their favour, have remained defiant and stayed put on the farm, demanding that government secures them alternative land to continue their farming activities.
Efforts by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to stop the evictions have also come to naught.