Chris Muronzi/Gamma Mudarikiri
Officials from the Ministry of Lands and its lands inspectorate department as well as people believed to be members of the Zimbabwe National Army have occupied CFI Holdings’ prime farm — Glenara Estates, businessdigest has established.
Well-placed sources said this week several government officials had been allocated 400 hectares of land on Glenara Estates, giving rise to fears the poultry operations on the farm could suffer owing to unregulated settlement of people on the estate.
The civil servants and military personnel first appeared on the farm brandishing offer letters in February this year and told management they would be taking over parts of the 1 200ha estate.
According to sources, after management pleaded with the army and lands officials, they agreed to allow the company to harvest planted crops before occupation .
Several efforts to contact the beneficiaries proved fruitless as they refused to comment, referring all questions to their boss, director of lands Elias Zero, who also did not answer several calls to his number.
Sources query why lands officials, who ironically are in charge of the land re-distribution process, have allocated themselves this particular property.
“It seems they (the land officials) are abusing their authority because you can’t have it both ways,” a source said.
Government, through Zimre Holdings Ltd, owns a major stake in CFI Holdings.
Glenara Estates acting GM Langton Nyabanga confirmed the development.
Nyabanga earlier this year said due to the sensitivity of the poultry business on the farm, the group’s birds would be prone to disease should the new beneficiaries settle on the estate.
Apart from disease, key water facilities were located on the 400 hectares that the civil servants want to occupy.
CFI applied to government a few years back to block the use of old Mazoe Road to enable the group to deal with disease control in the area. The company’s management had hoped to make Glenara part of its poultry operation.
The estate has increasingly become the core location for the group’s poultry division.
This is evidenced by the group’s US$2million draw-down on a 5-year US$3,8 million PTA Bank facility to construct environmentally- controlled houses on the estate, that have a capacity to handle 40 000 birds each. Four environmentally controlled houses are nearing completion.
The new facility would lower mortality rates to between 3% and 5% compared to between 8 and 10% at the open- sided facilities.
The company is targeting weight in 33-35 days in environmentally- controlled houses, compared to 42 days in the open-sided facilities.
The houses are also feed/space efficient, company officials said.
The CFI group solely owns Glenara Estates. In addition to broilers, the estate has 714 hectares under commercial maize, 270 hectares under soya bean, 33 hectares under seed maize and 50 hectares under sugar bean.
A number of listed agricultural firms have lost land to influential people, including judges and cabinet ministers, since Zanu PF launched its land reform programme a decade ago.
But critics say government and party officials got the lion’s share of the prime land.
Officials from the Ministry of Lands and from the Lands Inspectorate department led by Mrs Mbiva (0774972734) went to Glenara with eight beneficiaries of Tsikwi area, who had offer letters dated October 2011. The total area claimed is 400ha. The offer letters indicate that the beneficiaries should occupy the said land within 30 days from the date of offer. “We appealed to the leader of the delegation to allow us to harvest the crop before occupation since the said land is already cropped,”a source said.
“They agreed to allow us to harvest the crop before occupying the land. The team leader indicated that they will come and do an assessment in order to ascertain the harvesting dates at a date to be advised.
“We however noted that some of the officials from the ministry and from the Lands inspectorate who were purportedly representing beneficiaries were the actual beneficiaries themselves,” the source said.