By Leopold Munhende
FORMER President and now late Robert Mugabe’s nephew and ex-Cabinet Minister Patrick Zhuwawo has accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of setting illegal gold panners on his (Mnangagwa) predecessor’s farm in the Mazowe Valley, north of Harare.
According to Zhuwawo, the move is punishment for the family’s refusal to allow the former President to be laid to rest at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.
Mugabe died early September in Singapore but was only laid to rest in his rural Zvimba home after a lot of haggling between his widow, Grace and Mnangagwa’s administration over his burial place.
In an open letter to South African opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader, Julius Malema, Zhuwao accuses the President of being “a bully”.
“Mnangagwa has tried to bully and threaten President Mugabe’s family into burying him at Heroes Acre. He failed.
“After failing, Mnangagwa continues on a programme of retribution against President Mugabe’s widow and family. They have set illegal panners onto the family farm,” reads the letter published on his blog Thursday.
Mnangagwa was made to endure a tense two week wait before Mugabe’s family agreed to have his remains interred at the Heroes Acre.
However, in a surprise u-turn and as government began construction on a mausoleum in which the former Zanu PF leader was to be buried, Grace announced her late husband would be laid to rest in Zvimba according to his dying wish.
Mugabe’s widow Grace received a shock last year March when she bumped into some 400 panners at her Gushungo Farm which is also home to an elite private school. The panners reportedly told her to go and talk to their unnamed employer if she wanted them off her land.
The Mugabes hold a special grant for the whole area around her Mazowe Orphanage and own no less than four farms in that area.
Besides Smithfield Farm on which the Mazowe orphanage is built and Foyle Estate which houses Gushungo dairies, the Mugabes also own Iron Mask Estate, Sigaro Farm and bordering Gwebi Farm all seized using the grant from the early 2000s.
In the letter, Zhuwao apologises to Malema for Mnangagwa’s targeted abuse after the outspoken South African opposition leader visited Mugabe’s Blue Roof mansion to pay his condolences.
Zhuwao also distances himself and former cabinet minister Saviour Kasukuwere from any political outfit and schemes to topple Mnangagwa, as happened to Mugabe in November 2017.
“It is appalling that the Mnangagwa government owned and controlled Sunday Mail newspaper has been consistently abusing you for honouring the memory of President Mugabe.
“Mnangagwa’s media is pushing a blatantly false narrative that President Mugabe anointed Honourable Saviour Kasukuwere for president in a bid to downplay President Mugabe’s respect for democratically electing leaders,” said Zhuwao.