WHILE the nation is still aghast over the eviction of 200 families to make way for First Lady Grace Mugabe, it has emerged that 600 more families at Celtic Farm in Mazowe have been ordered to vacate the property this week so she can further extend her business empire.
This comes hardly 24 hours after she forcibly evicted over 200 families at the nearby Spenenken and Arnold Farms, which form Manzou Estate, where she has publicly declared her interest.
Manzou Game Park is on the edges of Mazowe Dam.
Villagers claimed that their colleagues at Celtic Farms One to Four had been given notices to vacate the farm to pave way for Grace.
They alleged that Grace had entered into a gold mining and processing partnership with a Chinese firm at Wagna Gold Mills, which they wrested from its previous owner, only identified as Munyoro.
Grace was said to be operating the mine through a proxy, a top police officer in the Police Protection Unit.
Grace, who runs an orphanage, an affluent primary school and Alpha Omega Dairy project, has publicly announced plans to annex more land to set up a private wildlife sanctuary, hospital, secondary school and Robert Mugabe University.
According to the villagers, heavily armed police officers yesterday besieged Spenenken and Arnold farms and burnt down some makeshift homes that had remained intact after Wednesday’s raid.
“Six truckloads of police officers armed with guns, baton sticks and sniffer dogs arrived in Manzou today (yesterday morning),” Costa Chirimba, one of the villagers said.
“The trucks returned with another load and ordered villagers to pack their belongings before they destroyed the houses.”
Another villager, Gift Chikowore, said police pulled down some houses before property was removed after villagers deserted their homes hoping that the police would spare them if household goods remained inside.
“But the police destroyed the houses and set on fire the grass thatch on houses they destroyed yesterday (Wednesday),” he said.
“They also blocked the roads to make sure that villagers did not run away.”
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba and principal director (State Residences) Dzepasi Innocent Tizora again could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Charamba did not answer his phone, while Tizora’s number was not reachable.
Villagers whose homes were destroyed on Wednesday slept in the open while yesterday they were busy looking for transport to carry their belongings from the farm.
However, most of them said they did not know where to go as they left their previous homes 14 years ago at the height of the land reform programme.
Villagers have already engaged the services of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to stop police from evicting them as ordered by the High Court last year when over 700 villagers were evicted before harvesting their crops.
Last year, some of the affected villagers were initially dumped in Rushinga, Lazy and Blagdon farms in Concession before they took legal action and got a High Court reprieve to stay at the property until they had been allocated alternative pieces of land to resettle.
“The lawyers have advised us that they have written to the Judicial Services Commission to get the police to respect the High Court order and stop the eviction.
“They were promised a response by 8am (yesterday), but up to now, no response had been received,” George Musa, one of the villagers said last night.