Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)
July 21, 2006
Posted to the web July 21, 2006
FOUR years after First Lady Grace Mugabe collected keys to Iron Mask Farm to establish a home for street children, the project has not yet taken off, fuelling speculation about who was benefiting from its output.
Reports that Iron Mask had delivered 300 tonnes of maize and soyabean to the GMB’s Concession depot has generated interest.
But the First Lady’s spokesperson, Lawrence Kamwi, dismissed questions about the ownership of the project saying there would be a groundbreaking ceremony this Sunday at Iron Mask.
‘Zimbabwe Children’s Rehabilitation Trust (ZCRT) is the beneficiary of all proceeds from Iron Mask Farm,’ Kamwi said.
‘We will give you the breakdown of all produce sold from the farm and the amounts it has generated so far.’
He said over the past four seasons proceeds from the farm had been going to a trust fund to enable it to start building the children’s home.
Information obtained from the GMB’s Concession depot in Mashonaland West province revealed that Iron Mask would be paid more than $8,5 billion for the five consignments of grain delivered to the depot this season.
It could not be established who was the beneficiary as the cheques are still to be collected.
‘Five cheques valued at $8 521 738 000 have been issued to Iron Mask and are yet to be collected,’ a source said. The cheque numbers are: 36630; 36631; 36634; 36698 and 36714.
Iron Mask has been delivering produce to the GMB over the past four seasons.
In August 2002 the Zimbabwe Independent revealed that Grace Mugabe had collected the keys to the then $100 million, 27-room mansion at the farm, which had been acquired by government for resettlement. Authorities were quick to defend the acquisition saying the farm would be used for charity purposes.
The then Jewel Bank chief and now Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono was quoted as saying the farm had been allocated to the ZCRT of which Grace Mugabe is a founder and patron.
Gono, the ZCRT chairman, went on record saying the trust had as of August 2002 mobilised about $50 million to kick-start charity projects on the farm.
To date, there are no indications of any developments relating to a children’s home. However, the farm is being fully utilised.