Military, Zanu PF bigwigs invade Tetrad college farm

THE military and several Zanu PF bigwigs have invaded one of the best agricultural training institutes in Southern Africa, Blackfordby College of Agriculture, amid concerns that equipment worth thousands of dollars could be seized from the tertiary institution, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.

Hazel Ndebele/Elias Mambo

The farm, on which the agricultural college is situated in Concession, Mashonaland Central province, is owned by Tetrad Investment Bank which is under provisional judicial management. The college occupies 1 350 hectares.
Blackfordby College is well-known in the region for training agricultural experts.

Zimbabwe embarked on the chaotic land reform exercise at the turn of the millennium which resulted in mainly white commercial farmers losing large tracts of land to indigenous people.

The land grabs have continued unabated, disrupting agricultural activity and spooking foreign investors.

This newspaper is reliably informed that in December last year, officers from the Ministry of Lands approached Blackfordby College to inform its directors that the farm was now going to be subdivided into 13 plots of which the Air Force of Zimbabwe and some Zanu PF members were going to be beneficiaries.

Sources said the Ministry of Lands officers told the college that it was going to subdivide the farm and leave the college with only 400 hectares.
Tetrad Bank, the Independent understands, contracted a white farmer, Pip Madison, by allocating him part of the land where he grew tobacco, maize, coconut and wheat, among other crops.

Most of the land at the college was used by the students for their practical subjects.

“The college was simply told that the farm was going to be subdivided because it was too big for the school. They said the fact that a white farmer occupied part of the land showed that the land was too big for the school’s business,” a source said.

It is understood that the money paid by Madison for rentals was wired directly to the college and not to Tetrad Bank as the funds were meant to help with the upkeep and running of the college.

Sources told this paper that although most of the plots have been parcelled out to the Zanu PF members with some beneficiaries already on the farm, there has been no official communication to Tetrad except for the information given by Lands ministry officers who visited the college last year.

When the Independent visited the farm this week, students and some workers who refused to be named for fear of victimisation, said the military has since occupied part of the land where Madison previously farmed.

“As we speak, the soldiers are here in uniform guarding part of Madison’s equipment such as the irrigation centre pivot which they do not want him to take with him as he prepares to leave the area,” said one of the workers.

“What is sad is that this white man used to employ more than 300 workers and therefore the fact that he is leaving means all those people have also lost their jobs.”

One of the beneficiaries of the invasion, Mazowe West MP Kazembe Kazembe, told this paper that he was not the only beneficiary as the land that was taken was subdivided into 13 plots.

“I received my offer letter from the Ministry of Lands last year whereby I was allocated 100 hectares of land. However, I am not the only beneficiary of this programme, because there are others who are also occupying these 13 plots which were subdivided from the college,” Kazembe said.

Kazembe, who said he had already planted maize on the piece of land, refused to reveal the other beneficiaries of the farm grab although this paper is reliably informed that other Zanu PF bigwigs benefitted as well.

THE military and several Zanu PF bigwigs have invaded one of the best agricultural training institutes in Southern Africa, Blackfordby College of Agriculture, amid concerns that equipment worth thousands of dollars could be seized from the tertiary institution, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.

The farm, on which the agricultural college is situated in Concession, Mashonaland Central province, is owned by Tetrad Investment Bank which is under provisional judicial management. The college occupies 1 350 hectares.

Blackfordby College is well-known in the region for training agricultural experts.

Zimbabwe embarked on the chaotic land reform exercise at the turn of the millennium which resulted in mainly white commercial farmers losing large tracts of land to indigenous people. The land grabs have continued unabated, disrupting agricultural activity and spooking foreign investors.

This newspaper is reliably informed that in December last year, officers from the Ministry of Lands approached Blackfordby College to inform its directors that the farm was now going to be subdivided into 13 plots of which the Air Force of Zimbabwe and some Zanu PF members were going to be beneficiaries.

Sources said the Ministry of Lands officers told the college that it was going to subdivide the farm and leave the college with only 400 hectares.

Tetrad Bank, the Independent understands, contracted a white farmer, Pip Madison, by allocating him part of the land where he grew tobacco, maize, coconut and wheat, among other crops. Most of the land at the college was used by the students for their practical subjects.

“The college was simply told that the farm was going to be subdivided because it was too big for the school. They said the fact that a white farmer occupied part of the land showed that the land was too big for the school’s business,” a source said.

It is understood that the money paid by Madison for rentals was wired directly to the college and not to Tetrad Bank as the funds were meant to help with the upkeep and running of the college.

Sources told this paper that although most of the plots have been parcelled out to the Zanu PF members with some beneficiaries already on the farm, there has been no official communication to Tetrad except for the information given by Lands ministry officers who visited the college last year.

When the Independent visited the farm this week, students and some workers who refused to be named for fear of victimisation, said the military has since occupied part of the land where Madison previously farmed.

“As we speak, the soldiers are here in uniform guarding part of Madison’s equipment such as the irrigation centre pivot which they do not want him to take with him as he prepares to leave the area,” said one of the workers.

“What is sad is that this white man used to employ more than 300 workers and therefore the fact that he is leaving means all those people have also lost their jobs.”

One of the beneficiaries of the invasion, Mazowe West MP Kazembe Kazembe, told this paper that he was not the only beneficiary as the land that was taken was subdivided into 13 plots.

“I received my offer letter from the Ministry of Lands last year whereby I was allocated 100 hectares of land. However, I am not the only beneficiary of this programme, because there are others who are also occupying these 13 plots which were subdivided from the college,” Kazembe said.

Kazembe, who said he had already planted maize on the piece of land, refused to reveal the other beneficiaries of the farm grab although this paper is reliably informed that other Zanu PF bigwigs benefitted as well.

Blackfordby principal director Moses Siluma confirmed there was a programme spearheaded by the Ministry of Lands, but refused to shed light and referred all questions to the ministry.

However, Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora also refused to comment, referring the matter to the province where the farm is.

“It is under Mashonaland Central province, you can contact them,” he said.

Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs minister Martin Dinha could not be reached for comment as his mobile was constantly unavailable.

Tetrad chief executive Eugine Mlambo could also not be reached for comment.

Zimbabwe Defence Forces director of public relations Colonel Everson Mugwisi referred all questions to Air Force of Zimbabwe spokesperson James Chingono.

In an interview, Chingono said the air force has no power to take over farms.

“As air force, we have no power to take over someone’s farm,” he said, adding: “We are allocated the farms by government so wherever you see the air force having a farm, we would have followed all the processes involved in getting it.”

Blackfordby College was founded in 1974 as the Tobacco Training Institute at the direct request of members of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA). This was at a time of crisis in the industry when static prices and disappointing yields were threatening the viability of the country’s large-scale commercial farmers.

Tetrad then took over ownership of the college from ZTA in 2008.

10 thoughts on “Military, Zanu PF bigwigs invade Tetrad college farm”

  1. Sharia says:

    What dd these guys fight for? Freedom to steal, kill, deal, destroy?

    1. spiralx says:

      Absolutely. That’s been clear since at least the Gukuruhundi atrocities in 1984.

  2. spiralx says:

    ZANU never changes. Greedy, grabby, geriatric, and racist.

  3. C Frizell says:

    it is a sad country when the worst thieves of all are politicians and military people. There seems to be a desperate sort of suicide bid to systematically destroy what little remains of the economy.

    And can you imagine the Rhodesian government ever closing down an agricultural college because a black person owned a plot? I cannot.

    Racism is murdering our country and nothing will improve until this racism is eradicated. We all know that, all except the racist thieves that is. And racial discrimination is supposedly against our Constitution. Huh? Did you know that? Racism is now on an equal with the worst days of apartheid South Africa

  4. kuku says:

    its very sad indeed. cry my beloved zimbabwe. God help us. save us from this madness.

    1. Fcuk ZANU! says:

      These are new lows for the ‘people’s party’.

  5. steve blomefield says:

    Backfordby is the second most important training college for tobacco farmers, Gwebi being first.

    To take land from this college is to shortchange the whole of Zimbabwe. We need peope to be properly trained.

    Leave Blackfordby alone.

  6. derek stocker says:

    Obviously the land is going to the poor people, those Ministers and civil servants who never get paid.

  7. mark longhurst says:

    hey fat boys who’s gonna train the managers you need to run these farms from town….#getridofzanulooters

  8. Dopori says:

    This is a good case where the President should intervene personally to stop the madness.

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