After repeated and strenuous denials by authorities that the First Family owns Arnold Farm, popularly known as Manzou, the National Prosecuting Authority has inadvertently revealed the identity of the owners in a court case.
For the past two months, police have been brutalising villagers resisting eviction from the farm, where they have been living since 2000.
Information minister Christopher Mushohwe and Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs minister Martin Dinha recently distanced President Robert Mugabe from the ruthless evictions of villagers from the property.
However, court papers in NewsDay’s possession show that the First Family are the new owners, as they consolidate their land holdings in the rich farmlands of Mazowe Valley.
The ownership is confirmed in the charge sheet of two villagers, Tapiwa Dhaisi and Sinikiwe Mazivei, who appeared at the Bindura Magistrates’ Court yesterday on charges of refusing to vacate the land and attacking police officers, who had come to enforce their eviction.
"On the 7th day of April 2017, the accused persons unlawfully refused without lawful excuse to leave the land when called upon to do so by the lawful occupier at Arnold Farm, which is owned by the First Family," the charge sheet reads.
The Mugabe family owns three other farms in Mazowe, namely Gushungo Farm, Iron Mask and part of Mazowe Citrus Estates.
Dhaisi and Mazivei, who are married, are also being charged with assaulting or resisting a peace officer as defined in Section 176 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.
However, their lawyers, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZHLR), claim their clients are the ones who were viciously assaulted by the police.
"Dhaisi and Mazivei, who were left hospitalised, are currently nursing injuries, which were sustained after they were severely assaulted upon arrest for allegedly refusing to vacate Arnold Farm and pave way for occupation by the First Family," ZLHR said.
"Since 2014, villagers in Mazowe had endured a torrid time with some unidentified personnel, who were accompanied by some Zimbabwe Republic Police officers and some Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement officials, who terrorised them as they demolished the inhabitants’ homesteads."
ZLHR this month secured a High Court interdict stopping authorities from demolishing villagers’ homesteads and evicting them, but this has largely been defied by the police.