YOUTH, Gender and Employment Creation minister Ambrose Mutinhiri has allegedly taken over the country’s largest wine-producing farm, Newton Estate, the Zimbabwe In
dependent heard this week.
Newton Estate produces one third of Zimbabwe’s wine marketed through Afdis and Cairns Food & Wineries.
Farm owner, Harris Raynor, declined to give details on the matter saying “the press will spoil it” for him.
“I am involved in very sensitive negotiations,” Raynor said. “If they fail, I will give you all the details.”
Documents in the hands of the Independent show that Mutinhiri started occupying the estate in June last year, temporarily evicting the owner. The farmer was only reinstated by the land task force on the instructions of the governor three weeks later.
By that time the farm had not been listed for acquisition but was later served with Section 5 and 8 notices in September and November respectively. The Section 8 is due to expire in February.
The documents further show that Mutinhiri returned to Newton Estate in December, this time equipped with an offer letter and demanding an immediate takeover of the farm.
“On December 6, Raynor was visited at the farm by the (land) taskforce together with Mutinhiri and told that government had given the farm to the minister and he must hand over the keys,” the documents say.
“Police escorted the farm owner on January 5 to collect personal property from the farm-houses,” the documents say.
According to the documents, after being served with two acquisition notices, the now evicted farmer sought a meeting with Lands minister John Nkomo and Vice-President Joseph Msika and the Mashonaland East provincial leadership to no avail.
As of January 10, 800 tonnes of grapes were ready for harvesting and the manufacture of wine.
Efforts to get comment from Mutinhiri or Nkomo were unsuccessful yesterday.