It’s checkmate for Grace Mugabe

Levi Mukarati Deputy News Editor

Government has invoked legal measures to protect the Mazowe Dam from a takeover by former First Lady Mrs Grace Mugabe, who has targeted the picturesque area 30km from Harare for inclusion in her sprawling business empire.

The statutory provision follows Government’s announcement last month that it was moving in to safeguard the expansive water body – Zimbabwe’s 16th largest with holding capacity of 39,35 million cubic litres of water.

The dam was previously under the control of Mazowe Citrus (60 percent) and Government (40 percent).

In 2014, Mrs Mugabe took control of a significant chunk of Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed agro-producer Interfresh’s Mazowe Citrus Estate, expanding an empire that already includes mining claims and farms.

The former first family owns an opulent double-storey mansion on Mapfeni Farm, which is near Manzou Farm – a property that Mrs Mugabe has also been trying to grab control of since 2011.

Mrs Mugabe “privatised” Mazowe Dam in July 2017.

According to a Government Gazette published Friday, the Environment, Water and Climate Ministry now controls the water body.

Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said use of the water in the dam, built in 1918, would henceforth be subject to approval by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority.

“It is hereby notified for general information that the Minister of Environment, Water and Climate has taken over the maintenance of Mazowe Dam … to ensure equitable access, effective and efficient water resource allocation on resettled farmers in terms of section 6 (1)(c) of the Water Act (Chapter 20:24), of the dam.

“The Zimbabwe National Water Authority shall enter into agreement with individual farmers who want to access the water for irrigation purposes and any inquiries on how to access the water for irrigation purposes and any inquiries on how to access the required water volumes for irrigation purposes can be made to the catchment manager’s office.”

Prior to Mrs Mugabe’s takeover, the dam attracted fishers, rowers, swimmers and canoers.

The seizure and effective privatisation of the dam violated Section 4 of the Water Act, which in part says: “No person shall be entitled to ownership of any water in Zimbabwe and no water shall be stored, abstracted, apportioned, controlled, diverted, used or in any way dealt with except in accordance with this Act.”

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