Grace Mugabe’s game farm

Grace Mugabe's park gets game


22 January 2015

A family stand next to their grass-hut dwelling which was destroyed by the police at Manzou Farm in Mazoe, north of Harare, in Zimbabwe. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, AP)

Harare - Villagers in Zimbabwe are taking legal action after animals were released on a farm they are living on, which the president's wife Grace Mugabe reportedly wants to turn into a game park.

Children from Manzou Estate in central Mazowe district were too afraid to go to school after nearly 100 zebras were brought to the farm this week on the back of large trucks, lawyer Tonderai Bhatasara said on Thursday.

"They [the zebras] are now causing children to abandon school. Kids are afraid to go to school because they met a herd of zebras and they had to run for dear life," Bhatasara, of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) told Sapa.

"We have consulted with our clients and we have received instructions for us to act on that new development."

Villagers say the zebras are being herded by rangers because no fence had been erected yet.

"They are basically herding them like cattle herders," Bhatasara said.

Last week, the ZLHR won a high court order barring police from evicting the villagers. Some of them had lived on the farm for 15 years.

Elephants next

Police had already allegedly burned some houses there.

President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party initially denied that Grace Mugabe had anything to do with the evictions, saying the farm was a national heritage site.

Grace Mugabe reportedly told a rally in the district last year that she wanted to take over a nearby conservancy. The Mugabes are still on their end-of-year holiday and not in Zimbabwe at the moment.

Zimbabwe's National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said a day after the court order was granted 12 January, that they intended to move wild animals, including lions, buffalo, leopard, elephant, and rhino, onto the farm.

"At least there's no evidence on the ground of those other animals, but the clients confirm there are plans to bring in some elephants soon and some lions soon as well," Bhatasara said.

"So we are taking this seriously, and we're on it."