Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Grace abused funds say Chinese monks

Grace abused funds say Chinese monks

The Chinese volunteers who helped Grace Mugabe set up her so-called 
‘children’s home’ here have pulled out, citing disagreements with President 
Robert Mugabe’s wife, The Zimbabwean can reveal.
by John Chimunhu

The Chinese Bhuddist monks vehemently objected to Grace’s alleged abuse of 
aid funds to transform the project into a luxury lodge and for-profit 
commercial farm instead of a modest orphanage.

The alleged abuse of funds and changes to the original construction plan are 
said to have thrown the project several years behind schedule.

“I can confirm that we are no longer working with Mrs Mugabe at Iron Mask 
Farm,” Li Wang, one of the volunteers still in Zimbabwe told The Zimbabwean 
this week.

“Our agreement with her was that we would build simple houses to take care 
of children living on the streets. That was all changed and they have now 
built luxury lodges for VIPs to enjoy themselves at weekends. Mrs Mugabe 
also seems to be more interested in farming.”

In one of the publicity documents for the orphanage seen by this newspaper, 
Grace confirmed breaking ranks with the Bhuddist monks but claimed that this 
was because the monks wanted “something very modest” and were “impatient 
with the slow and meticulous progress” being made.

Hasty adoption

Under pressure from the Chinese government, which has been bankrolling the 
project for nearly 10 years, Grace hastily ‘adopted’ 15 infants from Harare 
Hospital in suspicious circumstances and launched the orphanage at a lavish 
ceremony officiated by her mother on July 13.

The so-called adoption has raised eyebrows as no formal procedures were 
followed. Grace herself claimed at the launch that the children had all 
mysteriously been abandoned by their mothers at birth. Enquiries by this 
newspaper at the Department of Social Welfare, which processes applications 
for adoption of children, showed that Grace had not lodged any application 
and had not been interviewed by a social welfare officer as required by the 

The country’s adoption laws state that for anyone to adopt strangers, they 
must be vetted by welfare officers, who may require financial records of 
applicants and are supposed to inspect the home where the children will be 

Mothers disappeared Officials at Harare Hospital refused to discuss how they 
handed over the 15 infants to Grace without government authorisation. They 
also failed to explain how the mothers of the children had suddenly 
disappeared after giving birth.

Apparently, none of the cases of abandonment was reported to the police and 
there is no record of efforts being made to track down the mothers using the 
addresses they gave when they were admitted into the hospital to give birth.

A nurse suggested that the children might have been left by women who failed 
to pay hospital fees and could not walk away with the children. Adoption of 
young undocumented children is sensitive as there are thriving rackets 
involving the sale of stolen children, especially by Chinese who sell the 
children to Europe for about 4 500 euros each.

An incognito visit to the farm by this reporter last week showed luxury 
houses at various stages of construction. In all, there were 30 houses, 
eleven of which had been completed. The completed houses have five bedrooms 
each, with en suite bathrooms and expensive furniture and facilities only 
rivalled by those found in five star hotels.

Nestling in the shadow of the Mbuya Nehanda mountain, which locals claim is 
sacred as it is always raining in the area, Iron Mask farm was seized 
violently and without compensation by Grace in 2003. It is on the other side 
of the mountain from Foyle farm, also seized violently by the Mugabes and 
renamed Gushungo Dairy Estate.

Security in the area is very tight. Workers and locals claimed that people 
who criticize Grace’s plans are known to ‘disappear’ in the Mbuya Nehanda 

Maize production

Publicity documents at the farm show that Grace intends to use only 50 
hectares for taking care of children and 1 200 hectares for commercial 
farming. Officials at the Grain Marketing Board confirmed that Iron Mask 
farm provides the largest deliveries of maize in the whole of Mashonaland 
Central province.

Official plan documents show that Grace intends to build schools, a hospital 
and university at the farm. Mugabe and his wife are blamed for the national 
crisis that spawned orphans and street children, problems which they now 
purport to want to solve.

Mugabe drew an angry reaction from children’s rights groups recently when he 
claimed to be unaware of the violence, sexual abuse, hunger and general 
suffering of children on the streets.


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