By Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – At least 10 young orphans from Mwenezi District, who were being supported by sacked former minister of State for Masvingo, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, face a bleak future because Zanu PF hardliners who now control the party want to appropriate the Rutenga house that they are living in.
Bhasikiti was fired from the government after being accused publicly by President Robert Mugabe late last year of being a supporter of former Vice President Joice Mujuru — a grave sin as far as the nonagenarian is concerned.
And following Bhasikiti’s ouster, his Zanu PF enemies have been plotting to grab many of his properties and projects, that include a thriving citrus plantation, as well as the Rutenga orphanage that he supported.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News at the orphanage on Saturday, Bhasikiti’s wife Patience said some of her husband’s foes, among them Cuthbert Muzara and Zanu PF central committee member Tafadzwa Shumba, had given the children — aged between three years and 15 — notice to vacate the orphanage as the property is to be taken over by a senior official at Rutenga District Council.
“They came at the gate and told me that the children had to find somewhere else to go as someone was coming to occupy the house,” a pained Patience said.
Efforts to speak to Muzara were fruitless as his mobile phone was not reachable. But Shumba claimed that Bhasikiti had invaded a farm that was part of Rutenga Rural District council.
“What I know is that he grabbed the place and turned it into an orphanage, but people were saying if he really is serious about taking care of the orphans, he should have built his own place. Personally, though I don’t have anything against the orphanage,” Shumba said.
According to Bhasikiti, the orphans at the farm are drawn from around Mwenezi District.
Premised on similar lines as First Lady Grace Mugabe’s Mazowe Children’s Home, the orphanage seeks to be self-sustaining and to provide for the children until they finish high school.
However, the orphans now face life on the streets as Bhasikiti’s rivals use Zanu PF’s ugly factional and succession infighting as the basis for chasing away the innocent children.
“Initially, the plan was to set up a fund that would cater for all the children in the district, but there was no money. So, the MP and I decided to take care of the children using our own resources.
“Now we are shocked that there are some members of our party who want the children gone. Where do we take them?”
“A borehole that the MP had drilled was vandalised and we now have to fetch water for the children far away,” Patience lamented.
Still reeling from his unceremonious ouster as provincial boss, that saw the ascendancy of the ailing 74-year-old Shuvai Mahofa to his former job, Bhasikiti has since had to contend with a constant barrage of harassment by his opponents as the ruling party’s destructive factional fights refuse to go away.
Recently, the Zanu PF leadership in Masvingo province toured his Moriah Farm, after he was falsely accused of destroying its tree plantation.
However, Bhasikiti, who has now taken to full-time farming since losing his job, said what had happened was that he had pruned the trees, as is standard procedure.
His son Jonathan, the farm manager, also said they had no plans to leave the farm, where they also grow sugar cane.
“We are committed to this farm and have pruned the trees to renew them. Most of the trees are now too old and no longer producing as they used to do.
“Standard practice is that the trees are cut at the main stem and then they can re-geminate,” Jonathan said.
Since Zanu PF’s internal wars took a turn for the worse last year, people perceived to be loyal to Mujuru have come under serious and constant attack — with their properties, in particular farms, targeted for seizure.
Recently, some Zanu PF supporters invaded former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa’s farm in Headlands, but were later ejected by the police.
There are also threats by some Zanu PF youths to invade former Mashonaland West provincial chairperson Temba Mliswa’s Karoi farm, in a replay of similar recent threats to invade the farm of ousted Zanu PF chairperson for Mashonaland East province, Ray Kaukonde — where again police had to intervene. Daily News