Zimbabwe: Mugabe Expands Mazowe Empire

THE First Family has earmarked massive infrastructure projects including a university and hospital on the land it allegedly recently grabbed from Interfresh's Mazowe Citrus Estate, highly-placed sources have said.

Sources said Chinese contractors have already started pegging land in preparation for the construction of the proposed Robert Mugabe University, Grace Mugabe Hospital and other educational facilities.

"The Mugabes want to leave a legacy by creating this massive project which is going to cost millions of dollars," said a source at Munhumutapa government building.

The First Lady reportedly recently "grabbed" about 1 600 hectares of Mazowe Citrus Estate in order to grow her empire which already boasts of the Grace Mugabe Children's Home and Gushungo Dairy Project.

An exclusive primary school named after her, Amai Mugabe Junior School, opened this term with an enrolment of 97 pupils.

Speaking to The Standard news crew last week, workers at Interfresh's Mazowe Citrus Estate said their future hung in the balance amid talk that the Chinese would soon start developing the area into a state-of-the-art educational hub.

Fifty-two percent of Interfresh's productive assets were recently listed for compulsory acquisition.

The estate's employees said Mugabe's workers had since instructed some full-time employees to vacate the farm houses and used tractors to raze Interfresh's maize field two weeks ago.

"Amai [Grace Mugabe]'s guards slashed some maize to mark the boundary between Amai's land and that of Interfresh," one employee said. "Amai now owns the maize crop that is on her side of the estate. We heard that she intends to build a secondary school."

Scores of people who were settled at Arnold Farm and Mbuya Nehanda Farm in Manzou area, also in Mazowe, at the height of the chaotic land reform programme, were last year evicted to pave way for yet another of the projects under Mugabe's empire.

Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba was said to be out of the country.

Mazowe Citrus employees have decried the invasion, saying it put their livelihoods at risk. About 300 permanent employees have since been told that Mugabe was not interested in their services while about 300 casual workers were said to be hanging on the promise that she will retain them.

Some said they were worried that their children would have to drop out of school if the decision to get rid of them was carried through as the estate was their only source of livelihood.

Others said they did not know where they would go as the estate was the only home they had.

First Family to resuscitate Manzou Game reserve

It is understood that the first family intends to resuscitate Manzou Game Reserve and also establish Nehanda National Monument.

It is believed that the spirit medium Mbuya Nehanda was hanged by colonialists in 1898 at a place called Baradzanwa, which is located on one of the farms.

Interfresh chief executive Lishon Chipango yesterday requested questions to be emailed to him but had not responded by the time of going to press.

Mashonaland Central governor Martin Dinha also requested questions in writing.

He later referred questions to do with the First Family to Grace Mugabe's spokesperson Lawrence Kamwi.

"I saw your questions and I refer you to Minister [Herbert] Murerwa the portfolio Minister of Lands who will be better-placed to answer your questions."

Murerwa yesterday said he was in Dubai referring questions to Agriculture minister Joseph Made, who was not answering his phone.

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