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Sunday, January 23, 2011

War veterans invade bird sanctuary
By Thelma Chikwanha
Saturday, 22 January 2011 19:03

HARARE - War veterans have invaded the bird sanctuary, Kuimba Shiri, on the shores of Lake Chivero in Mashonaland West, ostensibly to make way for President Robert Mugabes nephew Patrick Zhuwao.

Garry Stafford, the founder and owner of the flourishing bird garden, a popular tourist centre which caters for more than 450 species of birds said that the invasion came after a meeting at Zanu PF headquarters.

There was a meeting held at Zanu PF and a Tapfumaneyi told us that it had been decided at party level that only 12 farmers were to remain in Mashonald West. Patrick Zhuwao is the one who is interested in this place, Stafford said.

Zhuwawo could not be contacted by late yesterday for comment.

The war veterans who were led by the director general of the Department of National Parks and Wild Life Vitalis Chadenga, have already hoisted the national flag and placed Mugabe's portrait bearing the inscription, Tinokutendai nekuvhota murunyararo, which means, we thank you for voting peacefully.

When Daily News crew visited Kuimba Shiri, a family business, there was no sign of physical violence and disturbances save for the presence of the war veterans clad in Zanu PF regalia.

There were no visitors as the Zanu PF youths manning the gate turned them away. The only two cars parked in the visitors car park belonged to the Zambian Ambassador to Zimbabwe who was asked to leave and an ML Mercedes Benz belonging to one of the war veteran leaders.

The news crew however was lucky and was allowed in without fuss.

Stafford, who was flanked by fellow white farmers from within the community sat in the shed near the bar and the war veterans had planted themselves like weeds on a well manicured lawn.

The two parties sat facing each other without any communication for close to two hours. The silence was only broken when Chadenga arrived and addressed the parties separately.

Chadenga first addressed the first group of whites and told them that they were not under arrest.

You dont have to stay here, you are free to go home and take a shower, eat and watch t.v. We are not at war , he said.

The group of white farmers left without establishing their fate which is now hanging on a thread.

A source who declined to be named for fear of victimization said the farmers were eager to know if they would still have their homes and properties after the planned invasion.

According to Stafford, the war veterans have been putting up at his farm since Friday resulting in loss of revenue. The farm, a sanctuary for abandoned and injured birds on an average day receives at least 50 visitors.

They came and asked who my supporters were; they wanted to know who had visited the sanctuary and I showed them my visitors book, he said.

The take over of Kuimba Shiri comes at a time when the country is experiencing violent protests from Zanu PF supporters.

Last week, Zanu PF youths tried to bar the Member of Parliament for Harare North, Theresa Makone from constructing a market place for Hatcliffe women saying it was a Zanu Pf project which the MDC wants to take over.

In the same week, rowdy youths invaded Town House, destroyed property and beat up council employees and innocent members of the public while protesting against Mugabes maize that had been slashed by council workers.

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