AGRICULTURAL and Rural Development Authority (Arda) has issued a stern warning to individuals looking to muscle their way into its estates by elbowing out current investors, businessdigest has established.
By Kudzai Kuwaza
The development comes amid many disputes over land ownership countrywide since the beginning of the chaotic land reform in 2000, several of which have spilled into the courts.
Arda chairperson Basil Nyabadza revealed that the attempt to interfere with the running of estates by its current investors is a serious cause of concern and will not be tolerated by the authority.
“We are saying that as we invite investors, it is important to look after our domestic investors,” Nyabadza said.
“When Arda started the public-private partnership business model, a good 80% were domestic investors who came on board and we were doing well.
“However, we have noticed that some of the domestic investors who did not respond to the call by Arda to join hands to produce and export are now trying to fit into some of the estates started by others in a manner which is not orthodox.”
Nyabadza said it was unacceptable for some individuals to take over the running of the estates from those who had stood by Arda during a turbulent period.
“We will honour and respect our original investors,” Nyabadza said. “At a difficult time for Zimbabwe they answered our call.
We believe that we must be honourable. You cannot have someone come and take over some of the estates simply because they are joining hands with third parties outside our borders. We do not believe that is fair.”
He said the individuals looking to take over were trying to do so by using their close links to senior government officials, a development which is unacceptable.
“People then come saying I am linked to X and Y. We will not listen to that,” Nyabadza said.
He said the problem is prevalent on its vast estates countrywide.