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Jokonya kicks out new farmers

Munyaradzi Wasosa

NEWLY resettled farmers at Greenlands Farm in Beatrice have been told to make way for one Chiyevo Jokonya, whom the farmers claim is acting for Zimbabwe’s former ambassador to the United Na

tions, Tichaona Jokonya.

The farmers say they were confronted a fortnight ago by assistant district administrator, Grace Mubaira, district coordination committee chairman (Presidential Inspectorate on land), Humphrey Vengesai, two policemen and two war veterans in army fatigues whose names were given as ‘comrades’ Zhou and Kata.

The group, the farmers allege, told them that they faced a forced eviction before harvesting their crops because “the owner now wants the farm”.

“We were given the farm by the government in 2002,” one of the affected farmers said. “What surprises us is that the government said ‘one man one farm’ but Jokonya already has three big farms.”

Investigations by the Independent revealed that Ambassador Jokonya is linked to three farms. He owns Samaita Farm in Beatrice, which incorporates Hillside, an adjoining farm he is believed to have bought around 1999. He is also connected to Baumers Kop Farm in Featherstone, near Chivhu along the Harare- Masvingo Road.

Ambassador Jokonya however denied any plans to take over Greenlands Farm.

“Who told you that?” he retorted when told of the allegations by the farmers. “I am not the only Jokonya in Zimbabwe. I only have one farm, Samaita, which I bought in 1995 when I was the ambassador in New York.”

Quizzed about the farm in Featherstone, Jokonya said: “It is a family farm left to us by my late father whose estate has not been executed yet anyway.”

A resettled farmer at Greenlands said: “It is true that Jokonya wants our farm. His workers are already living in some of the workers’ houses and his cattle were grazing at Greenlands until we chased them away.”

The farmers allege that Chiyevo Jokonya is in fact Jokonya’s daughter who is believed to be in Switzerland. However, Jokonya declined to verify the allegations as he said he was chairing a meeting in Beitbridge.

The resettled farmers, most of whom came from Marirangwe, first settled on Munaku farm in Harare South, where they were evicted in 2001. The government then resettled the 64 families as A1 farmers at Greenlands, whose size is 4 000 acres.

However, the government now says that the farm is classified as A2 and is unsuitable for A1 farming.

“Greenlands has Kalahari sands, that is why we want the stubborn farmers to go to a farm with better soils, which is Eden farm,” a source in the provincial administrator’s office said.

Some resettled farmers who left Greenlands already occupy Eden farm. The farmers, who have been promised $10 million each by the government if they move to Eden have vowed not to leave Greenlands.

“We are not animals. They cannot toss us around any time they want,” said an irate farmer. “The government settled us on Greenlands two years ago, so it must give us the money to build permanent houses on the farm.”

The provincial administrator, Christopher Chingosho, who is based in Marondera, could not be reached for comment. His secretary said he was at the University of Zimbabwe, where he is a student.

Efforts to interview Mashonaland East provincial governor, David Karimanzira, were also fruitless. His secretary simply said he was not in his office.

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