MAZOWE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) – A farm owned by Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace is at the centre of a legal dispute after hundreds of illegal gold miners invaded parts of the property and started mining gold.
A Reuters photographer saw hundreds of illegal miners digging for gold at the Smithfield citrus farm using picks and shovels, the tools of choice for most illegal miners in Zimbabwe.
Once guarded by armed police, the farm is now dotted with illegal diggers whose quest for gold has left open shafts and tunnels and uprooted some fruit trees at Smithfield, 40 km (25 miles) north of the capital Harare.
Mugabe was forced to resign in November following a de facto military coup, but during his 37-year rule he and Grace and their allies forcibly grabbed several farms from white farmers under the government’s controversial land reform program.
In a sign of how the once powerful 94-year-old Mugabe and his wife have fallen, the illegal miners at Smithfield last month told Grace that she no longer had any power to evict them, the privately owned NewsDay newspaper reported.