Mugabe leases Interfresh land

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President Robert Mugabe

…… as skeletons tumble out of the closet

FORMER president Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace are leasing out land they controversially seized from Interfresh Holdings Ltd’s Mazoe citrus estate a few years ago to local businessman Hamish Rudland, exposing their counterproductive posturing and double standards while still in power, investigations show.

By Chris Muronzi/Elias Mambo

The seizure of Interfresh’s citrus estate, the group’s prime land asset, by Grace, blocked external lines of credit to the firm as traditional financiers, including the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, feared their investments were at risk while the company struggled for survival.

The property being leased to Rudland is part of several farms grabbed by the Mugabe family for themselves, relatives and cronies.

This comes amid revelations the state has been compensating some farm owners or companies for the loss of land through Treasury Bills (TBs). The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is also said to have also funded land compensation for some influential people.

In the absence of access to external development finance, the 2017 national budget borrowing requirements have mainly been funded from the domestic market through TBs and recourse to the RBZ overdraft. During the period January to September 2017, Treasury issued government instruments worth US$1,8 billion in the form of TBs and bonds.

Investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent this week showed Mugabe sometime back sent emissaries to Glenara Estates for negotiations to lease his farm to them. His envoys told management that they wanted a meeting, which then resulted in consultations between Michael Coulson, the general manager of the estate owned by CFI Holdings, Rudland and the former president’s envoys. This culminated in a joint venture in which Mugabe got 5% of turnover.

Rudland, a major shareholder in CFI Holdings, this week confirmed entering into a deal with the Mugabe family at a time they were discouraging and even threatening mostly new land owners from working with white farmers or entrepreneurs.

“We were approached by the former president through his people with a view to helping him run the estate after the success of our Glenara Estates,” Rudland said. “I think he was impressed by what he had seen at Glenara and from where we sit, we couldn’t say no. Who could have said no to his request? But it is a purely commercial transaction on our part; nothing else. We were and we still are not involved in politics in anyway, as we are businesspeople or investors.”

Mugabe’s wife in 2013/2014 mounted a fierce land grab of Interfresh estates that ravaged the business, leaving it with a negligible amount of arable land and teetering on the brink of collapse.
Interfresh, which had total land holdings of 3 800 hectares, lost 870 hectares; accounting for 23% of its Mazowe land holdings. This left the company with 2 930 hectares. Of the 3 800 hectares, only 1 067 hectares were arable. The Mugabe family grabbed 414 hectares (39%) of arable land, leaving Interfresh with 653 hectares (61%).

Mugabe, who seized vast tracts of land from Interfresh, a once-thriving enterprise listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, is said to have “invited” Rudland into the farming joint venture after failing utilise the seized land.
The former president, who championed the land seizures of white commercial farmers at the turn of the century, is on record as attacking Zanu PF officials leasing land back to whites, accusing them of attempting to reverse the gains of the land reform programme.

A drive past the farm in Mazowe this week showed that the property is now being fully utilised, with some state-of-the-art irrigation equipment on site and operations running. A year after taking the farm, the Mugabe family turned the once-productive property into some largely derelict land.

Grace early this year tried to seize the iconic Mazowe Dam for personal use and barred villages from accessing the facility after taking over Manzou Farm within the same area and displaced hundreds of resettled families.

The Mugabe family’s Mazowe empire includes an opulent double-storey mansion on Mapfeni Farm, which can be seen from Manzou Farm where Grace had been evicting thousands of villagers since 2011 reportedly to establish a game park.
There is also a dairy farm, orphanage and a school. She is planning to build a US$1 billion university named after Mugabe using public funds. The Mugabe family, relatives and cronies have at least 13 farms, becoming part of the new land aristocracy ushered in by government’s chaotic land reform programme which began in 2000 purportedly to give land to landless blacks.

The family and its cronies owns Gushungo Estates (4 046 hectares) in Mazowe; Gushungo Dairies (1 000 hectares); Iron Mask Estate in Mazowe (1 046 hectares); Sigaru Farm in Mazowe (873 hectares); Gwebi Wood (1 200 hectares) in Mazowe; Gwina Farm in Mazowe (1 445 hectares); Leverdale Farm in Banket (1 488 hectares); and Highfield Farm in Banket (445hacatres). In Norton, they own Cressydale Estate (676 hectares); Tankatara Farm (575 hectares); John O’Groat Farm (760 hectares); Clifford Farm (1 050 hectares) and Bassiville (1 200 hectares).

Total land holdings owned by Mugabe’s family and their relatives total 15 809 hectares.

Mugabe’s sister Sabina owned three farms, namely Mlembwe Farm (1 037 hectares) in Makonde, Longwood Farm (924 hectares) in Makonde and Gowrie Farm in Norton measuring 430 hectares. His nephew Leo Mugabe reportedly owns two farms, Diandra (815 hectares) in Darwendale and Nangadza (1 200 hectares) Journey’s End in Mhangura.

Mugabe’s late brother-in-law Reward Marufu, Grace’s brother, owned three farms including Leopards Vlei in Glendale (1 294 hectares) and Kachere Farm 880 hectares in Mazowe.

TBs have been used to pay owners of some seized land, fuelling the current fiscal crisis.

Of the US$1,75 billion TBs issued to September 2017, US$386,5 million financed government programmes, while US$1,1 billion was channelled towards servicing legacy debts. Budget deficit financing through direct borrowing from the central bank amounted to US$393,4 million. The increasing mismatch between revenues and expenditures will necessitate further borrowing of US$940 million during the last quarter of 2017.

During his budget presentation in parliament yesterday, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said: “The current trend and manner of issuance of Treasury Bills is unsustainable, and has not only led to mounting interest payment obligations, but now also poses significant risk of resurgence of macro-economic instability.”

7 thoughts on “Mugabe leases Interfresh land”

  1. Penyai says:

    Mugabe is a thief and a crook. That guy was a snake.

    1. Zivanai Gutu says:

      For many years I believed he was a pro-poor revolutionary and incorruptible leader. I was very wrong and I’m thoroughly disappointed and inconsolable! A conman masquerading as a nationalist sure he was! It got worse when he teamed up with the selfless and uncultured young beauty called Grace.

      1. Rasta! says:

        You know what he did in Matebeleland in the 1980s…how can you think a person capable of doing that is pro-people?

  2. Mlongoshi says:

    That old man was selfish, egoistic and self centred just take 12 farms and give them to the people. Good riddance old shit!!:p

  3. josphat mugadzaweta says:

    he is the only one. all your EDs, chiwengas also have vast lands lying fallow. zanu is a kingdom of thieves in which there is no honuorable

  4. Maonazvangu says:

    The whole Zanu PF lot, whether they be G40 or Lacoste have vast tracts of land lying idle and fallow. A proper land audit should be carried out so that even those in power right now are left with one farm each. How many farms does Chiwenga and Mnagangwa own? That would be a good starting point.

  5. Shasha Nduna says:

    The President has one farm but the objective approach is for the Government to be pragmatic and not racist.

    Multi-ownership of farms must be addressed as priority and re-allocation based on skills set to deliver economic recovery through improved productivity in agriculture with no regard to race.

    The second priority should be absentee land Lords. Re-allocate these to Zimbabweans who will farm full-time regardless of race.

    The land audit prioritize and target high impact areas where the the impact on our economy is a quick- win.

    In an environment of limited cash is available the applicants capital resources must be a consideration. Lets not set up the new farmers to fail.

    Give the option of a deadline of those who know they have failed to farm to surrender farms to government for re-allocation.

    I think a person who is using other people to farm and they are delivering results must not be .penalized. The regardless of what race or company the farmer employs.

    Let’s go back to General Josiah MagamaTongogara revolutionary doctrine. He said that the Patriot Front( ZANLA and ZIPRA) were fighting to change a system of racial oppression and envisioned our children playing together.

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