Grace Mugabe. Picture: REUTERS
Grace Mugabe. Picture: REUTERS

Harare — A senior official in the Zimbabwean government has accused Grace Mugabe, the former first lady, of lying about an invasion at her citrus farm, Smithfield in Mazowe, by illegal gold miners.

Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu said police investigations had established that there was a longstanding dispute that was before the courts between Grace Mugabe and the illegal miners over a gold-mining claim in the area.

Mpofu said police had attended the scene after Mugabe filed a report at Mazowe police station on Wednesday last week.

In her report, Grace alleged that about 400 illegal miners had invaded her farm and vandalised state-of-the art irrigation equipment.

In a separate report filed with the police, Grace also claimed that the illegal gold miners had broken into her orphanage and stolen 31 laptops.

"They [police] established through interviews and physical checks that there were no illegal miners at the children’s home and lemon plantation," Mpofu said in a statement on Monday.

"The inquiries revealed that there is a mining dispute between the former first family and three mining syndicates — Mondo 3, led by Bright Maonga; Mondo 4 mining claim, led by Shepherd Nyazvingo; and Xmas 159, led by Mohammed Khan," Mpofu said in a statement.

"The syndicates went to the High Court and obtained a provisional order which bars police and Gushungo Holdings from interfering with their mining operations."

The Mugabes own Gushungo Holdings.

They also own several properties in the Mazowe area, the epicentre of their business empire, which includes several farms, an orphanage and private schools.

Regarding the allegation of laptop theft, Mpofu said only eight laptops had been stolen, and these were stolen from her private school and not the orphanage.

The theft was carried out by two of her employees, who had been arrested, convicted and sentenced by the courts. Six of the laptops had been recovered.

On a separate matter, Mpofu confirmed the government had reduced the number of security personnel assigned to the Mugabes to 16.

Before Robert Mugabe’s ouster as president last year, the family had hundreds of security personnel.

Mpofu said the reduction was in line with a statutory instrument issued by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last year.