Politburo shocks Mugabe, rejects further land grabs

Augustine Mukaro



ZANU PF’s decision-making body, the politburo, last week rejected a land reform report that proposed a further purging of the few remaining white

farmers.


Sources privy to the developments said the Minister of State for Special Affairs Responsible for Land and Resettlement Programme, Flora Buka, last Wednesday presented a report to the politburo, proposing a further expropriation of white commercial farms, arguing they were still “too many” white farmers on the land.


Buka’s report said there were 927 white farmers remaining on farms, a figure it said was too big, and proposed that the number be reduced to five farmers per province, implying that only 40 white farmers were expected to remain on the land throughout.


To Buka’s surprise and that of Didymus Mutasa, the Minister of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, and minister Ignatious Chombo, Zanu PF secretary for lands, members of the politburo rejected the report describing it as a “retrogressive proposal”.


Politburo members argued that the eviction of more farmers would bring the economy to its knees because they were the ones providing the little supplies that were still trickling onto the market.


They further argued that the report was driven by nothing other than racism since swathes of land were lying idle following the emotive fast-track land reform programme.


Others pointed out that a further purge of white farmers would cause an unnecessary international outcry.


Some farmers have taken their land acquisition challenges to international courts arguing that the whole programme had turned racist since it targeted only white farmers.


President Robert Mugabe, the sources said, was equally shocked by members of the politburo’s response because he had the impression that his lieutenants would welcome another opportunity to grab more farms judging from the fact that party bigwigs were the ones leading the current wave of farms evictions.


The rejection forced Mugabe to strike-off the land issue from the agenda of the Central Committee meeting the following day.


Effects of the rejection began to show this week when Zanu PF bigwigs leading the latest farms invasions were ordered by the courts to vacate the properties they are intending to take over.


The High Court on Tuesday ordered Senate President Edna Madzongwe to vacate Stockdale Farm in Chegutu owned by Richard Thomas Etheridge.


In Karoi, Myles Hall, who had sought the intervention of Makonde MP Leo Mugabe, was granted relief allowing him to continue his operations at Summerhill farm. Hall was under threat from Nomhle Mliswa who claimed ownership of the farm on the basis of an offer letter from Mutasa’s office.