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Animal Farm: Grace Mugabe Offers ‘Donated Rice’ as Wages

Harare – Some animals are more equally than others, observed George Orwell, the author of the allegorical novella Animal Farm.  Now,  for...

Harare – Some animals are more equally than others, observed George Orwell, the author of the allegorical novella Animal Farm. 

Now, former first lady Grace Mugabe has allegedly offered her former 106 employees rice in lieu of their termination benefits, after Gwina Farm – a subsidiary of the Mugabe’s Gushungo Holdings in Banket ceased operations, rendering workers redundant.

Derick Matsengarwodzi
During a recent meeting with her stranded employees, Grace visited the farm escorted by dispossessed president Robert Mugabe.

During the gathering, she vehemently refused to pay them their outstanding wages, insisting that even if they ‘summon courts or President Emmerson Mnangagwa’ – she will not relent, but offered rice instead.

The rice offered to the workers could be part of tonnes donated by China last year to alleviate hunger in the country, but later parceled out to party cadres. At her last political rally in Harare last year, Grace promised thousands of tonnes of rice to churches in attendance. Soon after, her husband was overthrown by the army.
Grace Mugabe

In October, 2017, Grace aroused a media storm after she allegedly donated used underwear in Mutare. The reporter Kenneth Nyangani who scooped on the controversial story was later detained for defaming the first lady.

Golden Pinjisi, the workers’ representative at the farm revealed the visit by the Mugabes.

“She came breathing fire in Banket accompanied by former president Mugabe and lied that she had given us our dues. But when asked by Mugabe if she had evidence that she paid us she went mad, telling the former president to keep quiet accusing us of lying to him. She is still the motor-mouth Grace Mugabe,” Pinjisi confided to the Standard.

The demands by the workers stemmed from reports that Gwina Farm – part of more than 10 farms owned by the former first family – had been passed on to Wilson Marufu.

“Let's meet in the courts. I will not give you any cent even if you go and report to Mnangagwa. Nothing is going to change. Mnangagwa has no say over us,” Pinjisi said, quoting Grace.

Sarudzai Mutema concurred with Pinjisi, saying Grace tried to intimidate them.

“The former first lady Grace came here yesterday threatening us and telling us that she is not giving us our money even if we report the matter to Mnangagwa,” adding that, she dangled rice instead of cash.

Confirming the meeting, Grace’s lawyer Fungai Chimwamurombe noted that some of the employees are raising ‘false allegations’ and were refusing to leave the farm which they were illegally occupying.

“There are no terminal benefits payable to anyone in the circumstances. There is no claim that has been raised before any court of law or labour officer,” Chimwamurombe added, “Some ex-employees are raising these false allegations because they don't want to leave the farm which they are illegally occupying.”

Allegations that a new entity, Vusumuzi Estates was in offing to replace Gushungo Holdings in a bid to avoid paying terminal benefits were quashed by Chimwamurombe.

“Please note that Vusumuzi is a subsidiary of Gushungo Holdings and some of these employees were always employed by Vusumuzi, even to date. This is clear from their contracts. Marufu is only managing the farming operations.”

The contentious farm was purportedly ceased by Grace from Judge Ben Hlatshwayo, later apportioned another land.

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