VICE-PRESIDENT Joseph Msika’s authority faced a test this week after state-owned Agricultural Development Authority (Arda) workers refused to vacate the hotly disputed Kondozi Farm, backed b
y ruling party lightweights.
After meeting a 70-member delegation comprising 28 chiefs and their headmen at his Munhumutapa offices last Thursday, Msika is understood to have issued a directive to Manicaland provincial governor Major-General Mike Nyambuya to ensure that Arda vacates Kondozi Farm. Msika said then that he wanted to check if proper channels had been followed in the occupation of the farm.
Msika met the chiefs in his capacity as the national chairman of the Cabinet Rural Development Committee.
Reports of Msika’s directive were shot down by Information minister Jonathan Moyo, resulting in Arda continuing to occupy the farm. Moyo declared that there was “no going back” on Kondozi.
Msika yesterday referred all questions to John Nkomo.
“You speak to Minister Nkomo, he is the man responsible for land,” Msika said. “You speak to Nkomo,” he insisted avoiding all questions put to him.
Nkomo could not be reached for comment.
Kondozi directors this week said they were still waiting for government to remove Arda workers who were occupying the farm’s business complex.
“There is no progress in evicting Arda workers who forcibly took over our business complex,” one of the directors said.
“Our workers are still out in the open waiting to get back into the farm village and ultimately to their jobs after their chiefs and ourselves communicated Msika’s directive to them.”
The directors said that police details and Zanu PF trucks, though in reduced numbers, were still patrolling the farm with Arda reaping and packaging the farm produce, much of which goes to British supermarkets.
Kondozi Farm in Odzi has been a target of ministerial threats over the past two years. They gained momentum on Christmas Eve when Agriculture minister Joseph Made, Transport minister Christopher Mushohwe, and Arda CEO Joseph Motovanyika together with Arda employees occupied the farm.
The property is registered as an EPZ and has an annual turnover of US$15 million and employs around 5 000 workers.