Grace Mugabe feeling the heat

 Grace Mugabe feeling the heat
Published: 05 October 2019
FORMER first lady Grace Mugabe is feeling the heat after artisanal miners moved onto her properties in Mazowe, following the recent move by authorities in Mashonaland Central to allow people she had dispossessed of their land to claim it back, the Daily News reports.

This means that the once untouchable wife of the late former president Robert Mugabe is now perilously close to losing all her properties in the area  including her famed Gushungo dairy operations and top-notch school there  after the miners got the nod to resume their activities on the farms from where they were displaced when the Mugabes were in power.

All this comes barely a week after Mugabe's burial in Kutama Village, following his death in Singapore on September 6  subsequent to which there was so much drama and controversy about the late nonagenarian's funeral arrangements.

Yesterday, some miners confirmed to the Daily News that they had already set up camp at some of Grace's farms, which are
rich in gold deposits, while representatives of the former first lady were said to be making frantic efforts to engage the minister of Mines, Winston Chitando, about the developments.

However, one of the miners Bright Maunga said they were willing to co-exist with the former first lady on the farms, even though she had grabbed them violently from the prospectors.

"I am on the ground now and on Mon- day I will go and assess my other claims. Over 30 of us were chased away by the former first family, but I hear many of them are now on their way back.

"My claim is not in the fields, but inside Smithfield. We are happy to be back on our claims," Maunga said.

In a surprise development last month, provincial authorities invited all artisanal miners who had been displaced by the then first family, to come forward and assert their rights including claims on farms currently occupied by the Mugabes.

According to a memorandum dated September 18, 2019, and which was issued by Mashonaland Central mining director Tariro Ndhlovu, these mining claims included those on Manzou Farm, Surtic, Smithfield, Arnold, Yarrowdale, Foyle Estate, Brecon, Bandari, Brundret, Maggiesdale and Glenbervile farms.

"All miners who used to hold mining titles (claims) on the above named farms are invited to report to the Mashonaland provincial mining office in Bindura and re-inspect them as soon as possible.

"We are extending this grace period for a period of 60 days with effect from 19 September 2019, beyond which we will assume all those who hold such interests would have restored them," Ndhlovu said.

Grace and her family have interests in a number of the farms mentioned, including Manzou, Smithfield, Arnold and Foyle Estate all of which are located in Mazowe where Grace has a school, an orphanage and a dairy business.

One of the claim holders, Tafadzwa Ralph Mutopo, has already written to the Amai Grace Mugabe School advising it of his intention to move back to his mine at Iron Mask Estate.

Yesterday, he declined to comment whether he had moved back to one of the Mugabe properties.

"I cannot talk about that now," he said. But in his letter to Grace's schools, Mutopo gave notice that he would start mining there with immediate effect.

"I write this to notify you and your office that I will be returning back to my gold mines, which are the Iron Mask claims.

"In terms of the Mines and Minerals Act (Chapter 21:05) of 1996, I am the sole owner/holder of the 4 x 10 hectare gold reef blocks in Iron Mask Estate, Mazowe area," he said.

He said he was simply making a notification "out of respect for Amai, and not for any other thing".

The much-debated decision by the government to allow the claim holders back has opened up floodgates, as artisanal miners who were all along waiting in the wings have started pouring onto their lands, threatening the Mugabe's businesses in the area.

As a result, there are fears that the massive Mugabe family empire, that came into being at the height of their power, will soon start to crumble as those who once feared them gather the courage to come back onto the farms, buoyed by the death of the former president.

Yesterday, Chitando said he was not aware that his ministry had held talks with representatives of Grace.

However, sources said Grace was also considering taking legal action against the government, as well as suing those who had set camp on the affected farms.

"There are people who have been there for a long time in defiance of police orders. Those people are now back and are already mining as we speak.

"We are weighing what course of action to take before we make our next move. But we have engaged officials from the ministry of Mines to resolve the is- sue," a Mugabe family member said.

The death of Mugabe at a top-notch Singaporean hospital last month, as well as the subsequent ugly tussling with the government over where he was to be buried, has put question marks over the future of his widow and children.

At the height of Zanu-PF's deadly tribal, factional and succession wars, Grace was a central figure in the high-stakes brawling between President Emmerson Mnangagwa who was then vice president and the Generation 40 camp which was rabidly opposed to him suc- ceeding Mugabe.

Mnangagwa was subsequently expelled from both the government and Zanu-PF on November 6, 2017, a day after Grace had said he was "a snake whose head has to be crushed" on a dramatic weekend which had seen the then powerful first lady being booed at a rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo.

Earlier this week, the rumour-mill was also in overdrive that Grace would lose her Harare mansion, after Zanu-PF secretary for administration, Obert Mpofu, suggested that the Blue Roof should be turned into a museum.

However, he recanted the proposal after the government distanced itself from his views.

Zanu-PF bought the land housing this property before donating it to Mugabe in 1999 who later bought five adjacent properties, including one with a dam, stables, tennis court and swimming pool, thereby substantially increasing the size of the Borrowdale estate where the Blue Roof is built.

Ominously, Mnangagwa said last year that his government was grappling with multiple farm owners, before naming Grace among the culprits.

"The main issue we have identified is ... of multiple farm ownership, especially among people in high offices. For example, I know of one lady who has 16 farms Dr Stop It," Mnangagwa said then.

Grace was christened "Dr Stop It" at the height of Zanu-PF's factionalism when she used rallies to admonish Mugabe's deputies Joice Mujuru in 2014 and Mnangagwa in 2017.

During Mugabe's era in power, the first family was accused of amassing huge tracts of land and wealth, as well as evict- ing miners, peasants and farm owners in Mazowe.
- dailynews
Tags: GraceMugabe,


Latest News

Latest Published Reports

Latest jobs