SOLDIERS deployed at Kondozi Estate under Operation Maguta have accused ministers and senior Zanu PF party officials of looting equipment from the estate.
Colonel Ronnie Mutizhe, a senior army officer in charge of Operation Maguta in Manic
aland province, revealed to Vice-President Joice Mujuru that the army could not fully utilise the land because equipment had been taken by government ministers and party officials. Mujuru went to Kondozi last Saturday during her tour of Manicaland province.
Only 40 out of the 224 hectares of arable land on the former flourishing horticultural concern was put under a maize crop this season.
Sources who accompanied Mujuru on the tour said she was surprised to observe that the once productive farm was underutilised and demanded to know why.
“Mutizhe had no option but to disclose that the equipment had been snatched by Zanu PF officials, some of them ministers accompanying the vice-president,” the source said, adding that: “He proceeded to name some of the ministers who were later cautioned by Mujuru.”
Mujuru was accompanied by ministers Didymus Mutasa, Munacho Mutezo, Joseph Made, Christopher Mushowe, deputy minister Saviour Kasukuwere and members of the Manicaland provincial leadership.
Contacted for comment, Kasukuwere who could neither confirm or deny the allegations, said he was sitting in his car when the vice-president quizzed the army. “I didn’t hear the reasons because I was sitting in the car,” Kasukuwere said.
Efforts to contact Mutizhe at 3 Brigade where he is based were fruitless.
Sources said the Manicaland provincial leadership, which played a pivotal role in the quasi-government Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda)’s takeover of Kondozi in 2004, took advantage of the confusion to seize some of the equipment for themselves.
The looting on Kondozi first came to light when Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe failed to recover billions of dollars worth of equipment invested at the farm in Odzi district.
Former Manicaland governor and Energy minister Mike Nyambuya, former provincial chairman Mike Madiro, provincial war veterans chairman Robert Gumbo and ministers Made and Mushowe had a hand in Arda’s takeover of Kondozi.
“When Barclays’ evaluation team visited the farm to make an assessment and put a price on the movable equipment, most of it had gone missing,” sources said.
When Kondozi was invaded it lost trillions’ worth of equipment, which included 48 tractors, four Scania lorries, five Nissan UD lorries, several T35 trucks and 26 motorbikes. Hundreds of tonnes of fertilisers and chemicals were also lost.
Even equipped with a High Court order, Barclays failed to repossess the farming equipment at Kondozi due to political meddling.
Sources said independent evaluators who visited Kondozi to put a price on the equipment revealed massive looting resulting in negotiations of sale between Barclays and Arda breaking down.
“The findings of the evaluators indicated that most of the equipment had been taken to influential people’s farms while the few that could be accounted for were found at other Arda estates,” sources said. “Tractors, trucks, motorbikes as well as fertilisers and chemicals have been recorded as missing items.”
The High Court granted Barclays an order to repossess all movable farming equipment at Kondozi farm in May 2004 and confirmed it in June the same year.