by Maggie Mzumara
BEATRICE -FIRE gutted former vice president Joice Mujuru’s Alamein Farm in Beatrice yesterday torching poultry houses and leaving 32 000 chicks dead.
The weekly Financial Gazette has it on authority that the fire, alleged to have been caused by a fault in the electrical system at the farm, is the third to ravage Mujuru family properties in a space of four years.
In August 2011, the former vice president’s husband, retired general Solomon Mujuru, died in an inferno at the same farm in circumstances that many thought were suspicious.
An inquest was conducted at the family’s behest whereafter the coroner investigating the death concluded he had died of smoke inhalation following the fire which was said to have been started by a candle.
In September last year, a Mujuru homestead at Tarisa Farm in Ruwa was also gutted by fire, destroying a nine-roomed thatched house and at least one other outhouse.
This fire was reportedly started by a relative who was allegedly trying to kill a snake.
The latest fire brings its own set of suspicions coming at a time the former vice president has met with brutal political fortunes.
Late last year she was stripped of her government and party vice presidency following a heated onslaught against her by her ZANU-PF colleagues who accused her of plotting to unseat President Robert Mugabe.
Scores of party members believed to be sympathetic to her have also been stripped of party and government positions amidst purges that started in September last year and are still ongoing.
Of late media reports claimed there had been suspicious movements at her Beatrice farm by men believed to be up to no good.
Mujuru was yesterday not picking up calls to her mobile phone. Neither did she respond to written messages.
National police spokesperson, Charity Charamba, told the Financial Gazette she had no knowledge of the fire.
“I am not aware of it. They may have reported to the nearest police station. I can only find out later after my meeting,” Charamba said.
When the Financial Gazette contacted the Beatrice Police Station, which is the closest to Alamein Farm, and spoke to the officer in charge, one, Gofa, he would neither deny nor confirm the fire incident but only referred this paper to the Mashonaland East provincial police spokesperson, Nobert Muzondo, who said he had not received any reports of the fire.
“Nothing like that has reached us yet, we will check with relevant police stations,” Muzondo said.
The Financial Gazette can, however, reveal that the chicks destroyed by the fire were part of a contract out-grower scheme run by Irvines Zimbabwe.
Mujuru has been on this scheme, which falls under a portfolio handled by Dr Phillipa Chengeta, a broiler manager at Irvines Zimbabwe.
Efforts to reach Chengeta were fruitless as she did not answer calls to her mobile phone, neither did her colleague, one, Dominic.
Under the scheme, the grower enters into a contract with Irvines Zimbabwe to grow broiler chickens on behalf of the company.