FORMER President Robert Mugabe’s family is embroiled in a nasty fight over land in Borrowdale, which reportedly belongs to a Harare private school owned by the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe (RCZ), which former First Lady Grace Mugabe reportedly grabbed when her husband was still in power.
BY Everson Mushava
Eaglesvale Senior School has now renewed its fight for the large piece of land donated to it by RCZ close to 40 years ago and registered under the Eaglesvale Daisyfield Trust (EDT).
The land, measuring 23 hectares, runs from where Borrowdale Road intersects with Harare Drive to where it intersects with Crowhill Road and Helensvale shopping centre, the road that leads to Mugabe’s expansive Blue Roof mansion.
The elite school reportedly intended to build a campus on this piece of land, but Grace grabbed it with the help of former Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo without Eaglesvale’s knowledge.
Since then, Grace has been producing maize on the piece of land. But last week, probably banking on Mugabe’s fall from grace, EDT returned to the land and erected a billboard on it.
The poster was however, pulled down on Monday after Mugabe’s family reportedly enlisted the help of the police to force EDT to tear down the billboard.
“The Mugabe family came here yesterday (Monday) afternoon. His (Mugabe) car was parked there, but we did not see him and we don’t know if he was the one inside or just his wife.
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“But we recognised the car, which used to have the Zim1 number plates,” a witness at Helensvale shopping centre said.
“His security team, comprising of four men, went to Borrowdale Police Station and came back in the company of some police officers.
“I just heard they called Eaglesvale officials, who sent some men to unlock the gate to the property, which they had locked. “The security team then pulled down the poster.”
According to the witnesses, who declined to be named, officials from Eaglesvale erected the billboard last week, which was then pulled down five days later after the intervention of Mugabe’s family and the police.
A source close to the police told NewsDay that a man, who claimed to be the Eaglesvale headmaster, visited the police station last week and asked for an escort to help him erect the billboard, saying the land belonged to the school and had been illegally grabbed by the Mugabes.
“He was asked for proof that the school owned the property and he claimed they had all the papers, but did not produce anything. “He was told to go through council and he left. However, he proceeded to erect the billboard, change the locks to the gate and placed [the property under] guards.
“Mugabe’s family came yesterday (Monday) and the old man was there in person.
“They asked for police escort to break the lock, went inside and pulled down the billboard and left.”
The school is currently situated in Willowvale industrial area on a stand belonging to the National Railways of Zimbabwe and had intended to move to its new premises in Borrowdale.
Eaglesvale School head Dennis Anderson yesterday referred questions to Enos Chomutiri, the institution’s board chairman, who was not reachable for comment, as he was said to be travelling to Masvingo.
National police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said: “This matter is civil involving two parties, who are engaging each other. Police were simply notified and no police officer took part save for advising them to engage each other.”
Grace is at the centre of many land fights, particularly in Mazowe, where she grabbed land belonging to citrus firm Interfresh and was on the verge of throwing out villagers at Manzou Farm.
The Mugabes were linked to around 14 farms acquired after 1980.