Augustine Mukaro/Ndamu Sandu
THE involvement of senior Zanu PF ministers in land grabs took a new turn over Christmas when Lands and Agriculture minister Joseph Made led an occupation
of the multi-billion dollar Kondozi farm in Odzi.
Kondozi is a 224-hectare horticultural product-exporting project with a turnover of US$15 million ($90 billion on the parallel market) and employing around 5 000 workers. The property is registered as an Export Processing Zone farm and is only second to Mitchell & Mitchell of Marondera in horticultural production.
The government has already gazetted the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill, which seeks to empower the state to take over properties that have EPZ status and those protected by government-to-government agreements. This is contrary to the recommendations of the Utete land audit report which said such properties should be spared from compulsory acquisition.
According to Edwin Masimba Moyo, the major shareholder in Kondozi farm, Made, accompanied by deputy minister of Transport and Communications Christopher Mushowe and Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) chief executive Joseph Matovanyika, moved onto the property, defying a High Court interdict barring them from interfering with the farm operations.
Moyo has a 54% stake in the project.
“During the festive season raid the trio held a Christmas party at the farm,” Moyo said, “Made addressed our workers trying to entice them into accepting them as the new owners.”
Moyo said the trio had shown interest in the property, especially the equipment and are hiding behind Arda in their bid to take over the farm.
“When they invaded us, they brought an offer letter alleging that the farm had been allocated to Arda. We offered three alternatives to them. First we proposed to lease the farm from Arda, which they turned down. Secondly we proposed to move out, taking with us all our equipment to a new site which they vehemently denied us,” Moyo said.
“This invasion is not about land but an eye for my equipment but I have told them that they would not take it and I am going to fight for it,” Moyo said.
“I cannot borrow money and donate it to inefficient people who have no capacity to manage my investment,” he said.
He said Made has been making frantic efforts to influence Kondozi out-growers to stop delivering their produce to the farm so that it fails to meet its market demands.
“We have 35 out-growers registered with us drawn from both A1 and A2 resettled farmers,” Moyo said.
Kondozi exports fresh vegetables and flowers to Europe and South Africa.
Contacted for comment Mushowe denied visiting Kondozi farm.
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Mushowe said. “I don’t even know what Kondozi is.”