17 April 2014

Zimbabwe: Security Concerns for Bona As Trees Are Cut

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe may have let his daughter Bona go in marriage, but he appears to make sure his favourite child keeps safe at her new home along Quorn Avenue in the leafy suburb of Mt Pleasant, Harare.

The Zimbabwe Independent visited the area yesterday and saw massive cutting down of pine trees which had become hallmarks of the greenery along the road.

The towering pine trees, which lined Quorn Avenue since the 1950s, gave the area a scenic vista and the greenery that has been there since then is now just going to be a fading memory.

Sources say the clearing of the area is meant to enhance security as she enjoys married life with her husband Simba Chikore, an Emirates pilot, whom she married on March 1.

She also enjoys 24-hour security provided by armed police officers from the Police Protection Unit, which provides security to VIPs such as cabinet ministers, High Court and Supreme Court judges as well as security sector bosses.

A source in goverment said the tree-cutting exercise along the avenue is meant to ensure the road is clear for security reasons.

"There are huge pine trees along the street and from a security point of view, it's advisable that they are cleared," said the source.

The official line though is that the trees are being cut because they are old and are therefore a threat to lives and property.

Council spokesperson Leslie Gwindi said he would not comment on security issues, but suggested that the trees were being cut down because some of the residents made a request to the city fathers.

"I don't have the reasons at hand, but you may find out that the residents asked for the trees to be cut down. I understand they are not very firm underneath, so they are a danger to property and lives. Some of the residents may have asked the city council to cut the trees down," said Gwindi.

However, residents in the area believe the pine trees are being cut down for security reasons.

Bona, who seems to be Mugabe's favourite child, going by his public remarks, was given the historic Mt Pleasant house where Mugabe lived just after Independence in 1980.

The house has since been renovated and to enhance security, a new high security wall was erected, with 15 external lights mounted two metres apart to light up the grounds at night.

Pines are evergreen, coniferous resinous trees which grow between three and metres tall. Many pine trees live for more than 100 years.

Thanks to Bona, city fathers have also put cat's eyes (a retro-reflective safety device used in road marking) along Quorn Avenue to enhance safety at night.

Bona is Mugabe's first born (with his wife Grace) and only daughter. He has two sons Robert Jnr and Bellarmine Chatunga.

On a number of occasions he has expressed his public admiration of his daughter. He says she is "very obedient" and "absolutely trustworthy".

His wife Grace has publicly applauded Bona for her moral rectitude and being well-behaved. Bona, unlike most children from wealthy and influential families has generally avoided a controversial lifestyle.

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