HEAVY ARMY PRESENCE AT GRACE MUGABE’S MAZOWE FARM
Heavily armed military police officers are still deployed along the Harare-Bindura highway at the junction which leads to the vast farming empire controversial acquired by former first lady Grace Mugabe.
The military police units have also taken occupancy of a farmhouse across the road where they have set up a roadblock. At the farm house itself, an army tanker and several military trucks can be seen in the foreground, while a giant military tent has been erected inside farmhouse yard.
All vehicles passing through the army security check points in Mazowe are thoroughly searched by military police with motorists and passengers required to produce IDs.
This is in contrast to other parts of the country where armed soldiers who had been manning most roadblocks in the days leading to the resignation of former President Robert Mugabe from office have been removed.
However, in Mazowe, the military police continue to maintain a heavy presence near Grace Mugabe’s farm, orphanage and private school.
“We are no longer making unnecessary travels in the area as we are always subjected to searches and asked where we are going every time we pass through the check points,” a vendor selling roasted maize along the highway said on Friday.
In recent years, Grace Mugabe had been setting up controversial projects in Mazowe, a prime farming area in Zimbabwe. The projects include a dairy processing company, private game park, private school and an orphanage.
However, the acquisitions have been mired in controversy as the now former first lady has been accused of displacing resettled farmers and farm workers from their land.
In 2013, she seized Mazoe Citrus Estate from a private company, resulting in thousands of workers losing their jobs. She has also grabbed Manzou Farm in the same area to establish a game park and evicted hundreds of resettled farmers in the process.
And earlier this year, Mugabe also tried to seize Mazowe Dam for personal use and armed soldiers were deployed at the reservoir to bar other farmers and villagers from drawing water from the dam.
The Mugabes are believed to own an estimated eight farms in Mazowe alone. These include, Iron Mask Estate, Gushungo Dairies, Mapfeni Farm, Sigaru Farm, Gwebi Woods Farm and Gwina Farm.