ZANU PF cabinet ministers and other senior government officials, who are multiple farm-owners, continue to defy President Robert Mugabe’s order to surrender surplus landholdings in line with their party policy, as it emerged this week many of them are still clinging onto more than two farms.
Report by Elias Mambo
Following its defeat in a constitutional referendum and in a bid to ward off mounting political and social discontent, Zanu PF launched a controversial land reform programme beginning 2000 in which thousands of white commercial farmers were violently evicted from their farms in a programme Mugabe claimed was aimed at resettling landless people throughout the country.
However, most of the prime land was taken by senior Zanu PF officials who now own more than two farms each but are failing to utilise the land which in some cases has become derelict or lies fallow.
Mugabe’s repeated calls for his party officials to follow the one-man-one-farm policy and limiting farm sizes according to their agro-ecological region have largely been ignored. His lieutenants who grabbed several thousands of hectares of properties are still stubbornly clinging to them.
The situation is complicated by the fact that Mugabe’s family reportedly owns many farms, some say over a dozen, something which runs against the grain of his party policy.
As a result, Mugabe’s cronies have ignored his June 30 2011 deadline to hand back extra farms to the state. Observers say this has embarrassed Mugabe who has staked his reputation and election victory on the speedy transfer of land to majority black Zimbabweans.
Mugabe and his party are currently resisting a government land audit which has been agreed upon.
The Zimbabwe Independent has been carrying out a verification process on who owns what from the land reform programme and information gathered shows ministers, senior civil servants and top Zanu PF officials are still clinging onto the farms they grabbed through violence and intimidation.
This comes as the Zanu PF politburo on Wednesday condemned the recent invasions of the Save conservancy in a heated meeting in which Mugabe lambasted “greedy” party officials who continue to hold on to multiple farms.
Top government officials have been fingered in different official audits as multiple farm-owners ignoring the one -man-one-farm policy and restrictions on farm sizes, a move which underlines the failure of the land reform programme.
According to information gathered by the Independent, those who still own multiple farms include Senate president Edna Madzongwe with six farms, Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo (five), Home Affairs co-minister Kembo Mohadi (four), Mines minister Obert Mpofu (three), Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu (four) and Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere (two), among others.
Madzongwe was given an offer letter for Stockdale farm (750 ha) but is said to be the owner of Aitape farm (2000ha), Couburn Estate (560ha) and Mpofu farm (450ha), Bourne farm (445ha) and Reyden farm (1340) dotted around the country.
Chombo has five farms namely Allan Grange (3000ha), Oldham (400ha), Maple leaf, Glentwyn stand one, and Shingwiri (1600ha) in Chegutu.
Other Zanu PF members who are clinging to or had more than one farm include the late Sabina Mugabe (three), Leo Mugabe (three), Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa (two), Grace Mugabe’s late brother Reward Marufu (two) and retired Air Vice-Marshal Henry Muchena (two).
Mugabe’s family, including close relatives, reportedly own more than 12 farms. Since the controversial land reform programme commenced, several land audits were commissioned and on numerous occasions blocked by Zanu PF ministers and war veterans, arguing the process was a witch-hunt targeting senior party officials and other beneficiaries of the widely criticised land reform programme.
Early this year, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai urged government to carry out the long-overdue land audit. Tsvangirai and the MDC-T were reacting to reports that the Zanu PF land reform department led by Chombo and Lands minister Herbert Murerwa wanted to undertake a countrywide land audit, notwithstanding the fact that Murerwa is required to do the same process for government.
Murerwa is still to undertake a national land audit in terms of the Global Political Agreement (GPA). According to Article 5.9 of the GPA, government should conduct a comprehensive, transparent and non-partisan land audit, for accountability and elimination of multiple farm ownership.
The GPA also seeks to ensure Zimbabweans who are eligible to be allocated land and who apply are considered irrespective of race, gender, religion, ethnicity or political affiliation.