HUNDREDS of villagers displaced by former First Lady Grace Mugabe to pave way for the expansion of her business empire at Arnold Farm, also referred to as Manzou Farm in Mazowe, have threatened to sue for loss of property after their makeshift houses were routinely set ablaze during their forced evictions.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
The villagers claimed that they were subjected to inhumane treatment by the police who carried out the raids on behalf of Grace, causing their children to drop out of school.
“We hope this will end now. We have been living as paupers for quite a long time owing to Mugabe’s ruthlessness. Now that things have changed, we need compensation for everything they destroyed including houses, food and household property,” said one of the villagers, Michael Chidyamudungwe.
“They destroyed our properties indiscriminately. We worked hard to get those items as compared to them who just feasted on taxpayers’ money. Our children slept in the open and others dropped out of school because of the abuse we were subjected to.We knew no peace merely by being [Robert] Mugabe’s neighbours. It’s only fair that we get compensation.”
The villagers also called on government to repossess some of Mugabe’s multiple farms and dairy project, Alpha and Omega, and redistribute the land to deserving farmers.
“We had goals to achieve all these years when we were being victimised by Mugabe and his wife. We can draw a list of what we lost and get compensation. Zimbabwe is a free country where we don’t expect those in power to abuse it for their personal interests. Giving us compensation will send a warning to those in power so that they don’t abuse it,” Collen Zengeni said.
Denboy Chaparadza, Arnold Farm Residents’ Association chairperson, demanded offer letters for the remaining villagers so that they have title to the land.
Several human rights organisations, including the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, expressed concern over the manner the villagers were reportedly abused by the Mugabes.