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10 Jan 2015 12:44
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace Mugabe. (Reuters)
The Zimbabwe government has denied First Lady Grace Mugabe was behind the demolition of homes and the eviction of villagers to make way for a wildlife sanctuary North of the capital Harare, the Herald reported on Saturday.
On Wednesday armed police burnt down homes and evicted villagers from Manzou Farm in Mazowe district, near to where the First Lady owns a dairy farm, and runs an orphanage and a school.“It [the eviction programme] has got nothing to do with the First Family at all,” said Martin Dinha, a cabinet minister in charge of Mashonaland Central province where the occupied farm is situated.“This business of abusing the name of the First Lady, her privacy and integrity must come to an end,” he told the state-run daily.
Dinha said that Manzou farm had been designated a national monument in memory of Ambuya Nehanda, a prophetess and leading figure in the 1896 rebellion against white colonial rule, who lived in the area.
Court orderHuman rights lawyers are suing the government for violating a court order obtained last year to prevent the eviction of the villagers until alternative land has been found.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights says around 150 families have been affected by the forced evictions, but Dinha said the figure was a lot lower and that other families had complied with the government’s order to move.
He said alternative land had been given to them.
“It is only 48 families giving us problems yet another 1 200 families accepted their fate and are happily living in those areas allocated.”He alleged the villagers did not want to move because they were involved in illegal gold panning at Manzou. – Sapa
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