WASHINGTON DC —
Lawyers representing settlers at Arnold Farm, also known as Manzou in Mashonaland Central’s Mazowe District have filed papers at the High Court to force government to remove within 48 hours about 100 zebras released into the farm to pave way for its eventual takeover by First Lady Grace Mugabe, who plans to turn it into a wildlife sanctuary.
A conservation expert has put the figure to turn the agriculture farm into a game park at around $10 million.
The cash-strapped government has declined to comment on who will foot the bill. But sources say the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management (ZimParks) has been directed to fund the project.
High Court judge, Erica Ndewere, on Monday last week granted a provisional order halting the eviction of more than 200 families at the farm without giving them alternative land with offer letters.
The villagers, who talked to VOA Studio 7, said the zebras are eating their crops and police who have camped at the farm are stopping them from erecting temporary structures or toilets, posing a serious health risk to settlers.
Reached for comment, ZimParks spokesperson, Caroline Washaya Moyo, told VOA Studio 7 that she was driving and referred all questions to her boss, Godfrey Matipano.
Matipano did not answer his phone despite repeated attempts to reach him. Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs Minister, Martin Dinha, who confirmed that Mrs. Mugabe has applied for a licence to run the farm, said he had a personal engagement and was not immediately available.
Attorney, Tonderai Bhatasara, a member lawyer of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said two government ministries and ZimParks are in contempt of court.
But chairman of the Zimbabwe conservancy task force, Johhny Rodriguez, said turning Manzou Farm into a game park to accommodate the big five- lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros species, is a multi-million dollar venture.