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Company not owned by Makoni

GOVERNMENT has set its sights on acquiring two foreign-owned farms on the pretext that they are owned by former NMB managing director Dr Julius Makoni whom the government considers a fugitive from justice.

ace=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>It however emerged this week that the farms in question – Aberfoyle Estate and Eastern Highlands Plantations – do not belong to Makoni. They are in fact owned by Plantation & General plc, a company listed on the London Stock Exchange.

State media reported on Tuesday that government wanted to acquire the two properties in Nyanga, together with other farms belonging to another former NMB director, Francis Zimuto.

Makoni, Zimuto and the NMB’s deputy managing director James Mushore fled the country six months ago to escape arrest on charges of externalising $30 billion. They indicated at the time they would not return to Zimbabwe as long as they were not guaranteed a fair hearing.

Investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent this week revealed that the two farms in the Eastern Highlands are not owned by Makoni. Plantation & General plc, in a statement to the Independent on Wednesday, confirmed it owned the two properties.

“I can confirm that Eastern Highlands Plantations Ltd is owned by Plantation & General Investments plc, a company listed on the London Stock Exchange with a range of international shareholders,” said Plantation & General spokesman, Richard Clothier.

“Our reaction to the Zimbabwe government’s compulsory acquisi-tion notice will be to appeal against it in the prescribed way.

“Perhaps I should add that we will appeal on the assumption that the government of Zimbabwe does wish to encourage foreign investment in Zimbabwe, especially companies which will manufacture for export and which made their investments during the time that the present government has been in office,” he said.

Located in the Honde Valley, the 1 800-hectare Eastern Highlands Plantations produces tea and washed arabica coffee. Its two tea factories at Zindi and Wamba produce a black CTC tea.

Plantation & General bought Aberfoyle tea and coffee estates in 1999 after acquiring the whole of the share capital of Heathleigh Investments Ltd, which owned the majority interest in the estate. The estate adjoins Eastern Highlands Plantations.

An agriculturalist in Nyanga questioned the suitability of the farms for acquisition.

“I believe there is a scam here,” he said. “Someone wants those properties and is rushing to acquire them using the excuse that they are owned by a ‘criminal’ who has not yet been charged with any wrong-doing.

“Tea estates, perched as they are on slopes of mountains, are not suitable for resettlement, which is why they have never had settlements on them,” he said. – Staff Writer.

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