Lloyd Gumbo, Harare Bureau
The First Lady, Dr Grace Mugabe was legally offered land near her children’s home in Mazowe contrary to claims by the NewsDay that she grabbed the Arnold farm, Mashonaland Central Minister of State Advocate Dinha has said.
Minister Dinha said it was disturbing that the NewsDay had developed a habit of ridiculing the First Family particularly Dr Mugabe over Manzou Farm, despite being in the picture of the goings on.
This followed a story by The NewsDay at the weekend, headlined “Grace in fresh land grab” claiming that Dr Mugabe was evicting villagers at Arnold Farm in Mazowe to expand her business.
Adv Dinha said Dr Mugabe was invited to the farm as a way of attracting investment in the Government’s quest to restore the farm into its game park status.
“That NewsDay story was mischievous, distasteful and criminal to allege that Her Excellency, the First Lady has grabbed land,” said Minister Dinha.
“Manzou Farm was taken over by Government in 2006 to resuscitate the Game Park after it had been invaded by illegal settlers at the height of the land redistribution exercise. These illegal settlers were poaching animals that were in the game park including elephants.
“It was the decision of the provincial lands committee that the game park be resuscitated to preserve wildlife. Mind you, Government declared Manzou and surrounding areas Nehanda National Monument, which means the National Parks and Wildlife Management and the National Museums and Monuments have interests in the game park.
“When that was decided, the province (Mashonaland Central) requested the First Lady to utilise the land as a way of attracting investment since she already had interests with Gushungo Dairy, and she accepted the province’s offer.”
Minister Dinha said the First Lady through her philanthropic work in Mazowe had done wonders that deserved praise.
He said the decision by the authorities to restore Manzou Farm into a game park had started paying dividends.
“That land was acquired by the acquiring authority, which is the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement and that has started paying off.
“For instance, restocking of wildlife has started and the 600 illegal families were relocated to Nyandirwi Farm in Mazowe and Lot One of Lazy 7.
“For anyone to claim that there are still people there is incorrect and malicious. All the villagers were relocated a long time ago. The only people there are illegal gold panners, who have already been told to move.
“That NewsDay story is false and phony calculated politically and maliciously to defame the good name and dignity of Her Excellency, the First Lady.
“The whole story depicts the height of gutter journalism by the so-called independent press, who in fact are opposition tabloids sponsored by Western countries.
“We cannot and will not allow as Government, the continued denigration of the First Lady, the First Family and the President by these fly by night journalists and newspapers. Surely the bark must stop somewhere,” said Minister Dinha.
He said the First Lady’s work at the Mazowe Children’s Home and the school was unparalleled.
To that end, he said she deserved respect for the good work she was doing.