Hordes of illegal artisanal miners have invaded former first lady Grace Mugabe’s farm in Mazowe which also houses her orphanage, the Daily News can report.
Grace swiftly confronted the invaders yesterday, before proceeding to make a police report after they had told her she was no longer in power and could do nothing to them.
The hundreds of illegal gold panners descended on the former first family’s citrus plantation called Smithfield, destroying drip irrigation equipment and threatening farm workers who dared stand in their way.
At the farm, truckloads were carrying ore, leaving behind a scarred landscape with citrus fruits dying.
Seeming undeterred by the presence of the menacing miners who were waving shovels and machetes at her, Grace told them to leave the property but they would not budge.
“Can you please leave this place because it is private property,” Grace told the mob which, however, shot back saying “you are no longer in power and you cannot do anything to us.”
The former first lady then dared the farm invaders to attack her but none made a move only murmuring before bursting into the song Kutonga Kwaro, a piece by contemporary musician Jah Prayah that was the soundtrack of last November’s “soft coup” that led to the downfall of her husband, Robert Mugabe after 37 years in power.
With only skeletal security, after the State stripped her of “bodyguards”, Grace then proceeded to Mazowe Police Station and made a police report in the company of her nephew — who is now some sort of her close bodyguard.
“I am a female adult aged 52 years residing at (Grace Mugabe children home). I am the owner of Grace Mugabe Children Home, Mazowe. I know the accused as Nyasvingo only in connection with this case. On the March 29, 2018 at around 1130 hours I was touring my farm, Smithfield, when I arrived at Lemon pool section I was shocked to find a group of approximately 400 men busy illegally panning for gold.
“I then asked them to stop their activities since I am the owner of the farm and I am the holder of a special grant for the whole area. However, the crowd that was being led by one known as Nyasvingo started to shout obscenities at me and continued with their illegal activities.
“The illegal activities have since destroyed my irrigation infrastructure which feeds the lemon pool section, and there is massive land degradation. The illegal activities also pose a threat to my children’s home as the illegal panners are also seen loitering inside the home at night…I then proceeded to Mazowe police station and made a report,” said Grace in her police statement.
The invasion comes as relations between the ruling party Zanu PF led by Emmerson Mnangagwa and his predecessor have become strained with some supporters of the governing party regularly threatening to strip the former first family of its assets.
Since reports surfaced that Mugabe is backing the National Patriotic Front — a party linked to former Zanu PF officials — the former first family has been subjected to unrestrained attacks by his erstwhile comrades with some even threatening to expel the former strongman from the party he founded along with other nationalists in 1963.
Although Mugabe has indicated a willingness to engage with Mnangagwa — his protégé-turned-tormentor — he has been insistent that the present administration is in power “illegally.”
Mugabe has said his family is being harassed while workers are subjected to interrogations from alleged State security agents.
This is contrary to the rosy picture that Mnangagwa has tried to sell to Africa at large that Mugabe is “safe and happy” and his “legacy is guaranteed”.
Yesterday, Grace told the Daily News of how she is now being mistreated following her husband’s thunderous fall that was celebrated by many in Zimbabwe.
“Does it mean that if…Mnangagwa is removed from power tomorrow, he will be dispossessed of his investments? When we went there they were chanting Kutonga Kwaro; this is politically-motivated. Is this how he (ED) wants to be treated with his investments?” Grace asked rhetorically.
During her husband’s reign, Grace was a powerful woman.
Her word was a command and men, including Mnangagwa, either kneeled before her or openly bootlicked her to curry favour with Mugabe.
But that was before November 14 when the army stepped in and superintended the demise of their commander-in-chief.
Mnangagwa who was sworn in as president on November 24 has been desperate to lure investors — but countries such as the United States have told him that he has to “respect property rights” and observe “human rights” before targeted sanctions are removed.