Heavily armed police officers today evicted more than 200 families from a farm in Mazowe District, Mashonaland Central province, to pave way for First Lady Grace Mugabe, who reportedly wants to establish a game reserve.
Police officers, who were allegedly acting on the orders of Mrs. Mugabe evicted the families from Arnold Farm Number 10.
The first lady is currently in the far East with her husband, President Robert Mugabe, who is on his annual vacation. She was not available for comment together with her aide de camp, Lawrence Kamwi.
One of the affected resettled farmers, who spoke on condition that he is not identified, told Studio 7 that some uniformed members of the police and the secret service had been visiting the farm since last week advising them to leave to pave way for the first lady, who allegedly wants to set up a game park on the property.
The affected farmer complained that they were being evicted at a time when they had planted their crops, adding that they would not be able to have any food supplies.
Following the destruction of the homes by the police today, some of the affected farmers also said their personal belongings are likely to be damaged as they would be exposed to the harsh weather conditions while many children would not be able to attend classes when schools open next week.
One of the lawyers handling the case, David Hofisi who works with the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said the lawyers’ organization has dispatched a team of legal practitioners to the farm in a bid to stop the evictions.
Hofisi said the evictions were illegal because there was a court order barring the forced removals of the affected families.
Mazowe West legislator, Fortune Chasi and Mashonaland Central provincial affairs minister Martin Dinha said they were not aware of today’s evictions while national police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said she was waiting to be briefed by officers in Mashonaland Central province before issuing a statement.
At the end of last year, Mrs. Mugabe said she intends to build a university in Mazowe district that will be named after the president.
At that time, Dinha promised her land in the province for any business venture. The Mugabe family has a vast business empire in Mazowe ranging from farms and a school in the district. One of the farms was grabbed from High Court judge Ben Hlatswayo