Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono’s farm house in Borrowdale, Harare, was yesterday afternoon gutted by fire that destroyed property worth thousands of dollars. Although details were still sketchy last night, sources said the fire could have been caused by an electrical fault. Police are still investigating the cause of the fire. Dr Gono’s farm manager reported the incident to the police.
The fire brigade arrived later at the scene, but the thatched roof had collapsed and some of the property burnt to ashes. Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba confirmed the incident last night. “We confirm the fire incident and we are still carrying out investigations to ascertain the cause,” she said without elaborating further.
Efforts to get comment from Dr Gono were fruitless yesterday as his mobile phone went unanswered. He was also not responding to text and WhatsApp messages. In September 2013, fire gutted Dr Gono’s chicken farm for the second time in less than two months in another suspected case of arson. The farm is located on the outskirts of Harare along Mutoko Road. The fire that started around 5pm, destroyed five hectares before members of the Fire Brigade were called in to put it out. The group chief operating officer for TD Holdings, a subsidiary of Lunar Chickens, Mr Velenjani Lupankwa, was quoted as saying they were yet to determine the extent of the damage that could have been caused by the fire.
“The fire is said to have started at around 5 pm and fortunately the wind direction saved the buildings from being burnt. We are still assessing the damage and we are yet to inform Dr Gono, who is the principal investor,” Mr Lupankwa said. He said the cause of the fire was not known. “We cannot rule out foul play because there was no electrical fault and the location of the fire makes us think that they were targeting the heart of our breeding programme, that is the area where we get 300 000 day-old chicks every week,” Mr Lupankwa said. “Had it been burnt that would have meant being out of business for more than a year,” he said. During the same year in July, property worth more than $30 000 was burnt at the same farm. Farm equipment that included electric motors, electronic feeding troughs and grazing land were destroyed in the inferno.