SENIOR Zanu PF members and other beneficiaries of the land reform are raking in billions of dollars a month by leasing out farms to the few remaining white commercial farmers as corruption cases sprout in the agricultural sector.
aced sources in the farming sector said many of the farmers still on the land had managed to do so by entering agreements with powerful individuals in the Zanu PF leadership to whom the farmers pay “protection” fees.
During a tour of the eastern Lowveld, members of the Lands, Agriculture, Resettlement and Water Development parliamentary portfolio committee discovered that newly resettled farmers had ceded their plots back to the former owners for a fee.
“The Lowveld scenario was a microcosm of the wider national picture in which senior ruling party and government officials seized farms only to rent them out,” sources said this week.
A Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) executive, who refused to be named, said ceding farms to influential people and paying protection fees to continue operating was a countrywide phenomenon.
“Most of the operating farmers have entered into private arrangements with the local party leadership to remain on the land,” the executive said.
“The arrangements range from paying settlers for grazing pastures or going into partnership with the beneficiary. If it wasn’t for such arrangements no white commercial farmers would still be farming.”
The executive said the CFU top leadership had not been spared the illicit deals resulting in some of them expanding their business operations.
In the Selous area settlers are understood to have made fortunes, charging farmers for harvesting hay from their pieces of land.
Another such set-up was at Chikore farm in Masvingo, where provincial war veterans leader Isaiah Muzenda and his colleagues struck a deal with the Buchanan family to block Higher Education minister Stan Mudenge from taking over the farm.
Mudenge has since been given an offer letter and occupied the farm, forcing the Buchanans to leave the country.
The move has caused serious disgruntlement amongst war veterans who had struck a deal with the owner of the farm who in turn agreed to cede part of the farm to them while he retained the remainder. As part of the agreement, the war veterans would benefit from Buchanan’s expertise in horticulture.