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Govt rocks Oppenheimer empire

THE Oppenheimer empire in Zimbabwe has taken another knock after the government this week listed for compulsory acquisition six farms owned by one of the wealthiest families in the world.

The government on Wednesday published a list of 152 farms for seizure, including six ranches owned by the Oppenheimer family, which has huge mining interests in southern Africa. The six ranches have a total land area of 45 330 hectares.

The six properties are Josephs Block ranch, Esmyangene Block, Bulawayo Syndicate Block, Mbati Tlabetsi and sub-division A of Mbati Tlabetsi – all in the Bubi district of Matabeleland South. The other one is Umgazi farm registered under Belingwe district.

The latest development comes after government seized over 35 000 hectares of land from the Oppenheimer-owned Debshan ranch in 2001.

The government has alleged that the Oppenheimer family owns land the size of Belgium.

Vice-President Joseph Msika, accompanied by Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Olivia Muchena, the late Matabeleland South governor Stephen Nkomo, and Midlands governor Cephas Msipa, swooped on Debshan farm to kick-start the demarcation of the property in 2001.

The Oppenheimers control two of Africa’s richest companies, Anglo American Corporation and De Beers, a diamond mining concern.

The government has said it will acquire a further 65 000 hectares from the 135 000 hectares at Debshan ranch.

This is despite the fact that in September 2000 the Oppenheimer family and the Anglo American Corporation (AAC) offered government 40 000 hectares of the 960 000 hectares of land they own for resettlement.

The latest listing of the Oppenheimer farms come after President Mugabe said his government had completed its fast-track land reform. – Staff Writer.

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