Farmer evictions prejudices govt of Aspef loans

Augustine Mukaro


THE eviction of two highly productive white commercial farmers in Karoi being charged with defying Section 8 notices could prejudice government of billions of dollars in Agricultural Sector Productivity Enhanc

ement Fund (Aspef) loans.


Information at hand shows that Daniel Nel and Gert Terblanche were protected by a memorandum of understanding between government and CFI Holdings which has a clause on zero-tolerance for disturbances and eviction.


Sources privy to the MoU said CFI contracted the two farmers to grow key crops needed in its subsidiaries. The contract was funded through Aspef loans.


Nel confirmed he is using Aspef funds to finance his operations and has been selling the produce to service the loan. He could not however give details of the loan.


“I am using Aspef funds to do 350 hectares of summer crop and 180 hectares winter crop,” Nel said.


“Last year alone I delivered 2 400 tonnes of wheat and barley, 5 000 tonnes maize, 120 tonnes sugarbean seed and 400 000 kg of tobacco.”


Nel, a South African, bought Temple-Combi Estate in 1992, responding to an invitation by the government of Zimbabwe to come and invest. He valued his investments at US$3 million.


“The government advertised Zimbabwe in 1991-2 through the Zimbabwe Investment Centre and the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair as the country with the highest growth rate and most stable economy in Africa and that investors would be protected by the investment laws,” Nel said.


“As an investor I responded to the advert and the president signed my papers allowing me to invest. My appeal to the president now is, please allow me to continue with my investment the same way you invited me.”


He said Zimbabwe must honour its laws of investment and allow the country to proper.


“My situation is similar to what a number of other investors throughout the country are going through and what we are asking for is nothing special but for the government to honour its laws,” Nel said.


Since the launch of Aspef in May last year, the government through the RBZ, disbursed $7 trillion (old currency) to the fund but the repayment has not been forthcoming.


Terblanche and Nel, who appeared in court last Friday for defying orders to vacate their farms, had their case referred to the High Court by Karoi magistrate Archibald Dingani on the basis that they had challenged the eviction notices in a higher court.


The two were served with 90-day notices on June 14, which expired on September 14 and they were expected to have left the farms.


Nel owns Temple-Combi Farm while Terblanche runs Dandazi Estate.

The initiative to evict the farmers is premised on the provisions of the newly promulgated Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2006 which stipulates that anyone on any land that received a Section 5 notice sometime in the last six years, will have 45 days to get out off the property and wind up farming operation. A farmer who does not have a lease or offer letter, and defies evictions can be imprisoned for up to two years’ if found guilty.


The farmers’ lawyer David Drury told magistrate Dingani that the state’s application for the eviction of the Nel and Terblanche families from the Karoi district was “incompetent, illegal and an abuse of all sorts of rules and all sorts of laws”.