ZANU PF officials in Mashonaland West province are up in arms with the Provincial Affairs minister Mary Mliswa, accusing her of single-handedly presiding over the exercise to downsize commercial farms in the province without consulting them, it has emerged.
EVERSON MUSHANA/ANDREW KUNAMBURA
Mliswa, in her capacity as chairperson of the provincial lands committee (PLC) responsible for identifying “oversized farms” in the province and recommending for their acquisition to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, has been spearheading the seizures.
Senior government officials, ministers and other politically connected personalities have been lined up to take over the farms, which are mostly owned by whites.
Sources said there have been heated exchanges in recent meetings of the PLC where Zanu PF officials have accused her of failing to report to them.
Zanu PF sees itself as a supervisor to the government.
“There have been heated confrontations in the last two PLC meetings where Zanu PF officials have expressed strong reservations over how she has been coordinating the land downsizing exercise. The first meeting was held about two weeks ago and the other one was held on Tuesday this week. Basically they want her to consult them when making these decisions,” a source said.
“So she was really taken to task and, as a way forward, they instructed her to always consult the party structures in future exercises.” Zanu PF provincial chairperson Ziyambi Ziyambi declined to comment on the matter.
Mliswa said the allegations are coming from aggrieved individuals who have found her incorruptible.“We have been having our meetings in peace. I think the information is coming from aggrieved people who think we owe them something. When people see an incorruptible person, they become bitter and cook up a lot of stories. I do my things transparently,” she said.
“In any case, why would they be complaining? This is a national issue and not a party issue as the President has always said. I am only implementing government policy and there are set guidelines which I follow to the letter, so no one can tell me otherwise. I am guided by government policy, so let us not say this issue is political. I think whoever feeds you that information is coming from a point of selfishness. I always consult with the parent ministry,” she said.
The developments come at a time the government has already gazetted the takeover of more than half of Hunyani Farm, a 2 400-hectare estate located just outside Norton, which belongs to Peter Drummond.
Hunyani Farm is currently under an impressive winter barley crop grown under contract with Delta Beverages and boasts a massive poultry project which produces 70 tonnes of chicken per month.
It is home to Drummond Chickens, a common brand on the retail market. Some sections of the farm are reserved for beef production and have about 700 cattle.
Drummond is set to remain with just 500 hectare, while four beneficiaries will share 1 500 hectares of the farm equally, according to the Government Gazette seen by the Independent this week.
“It is hereby notified that the minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement acquires for and on behalf of the state the land identified and described in the schedule for purposes of agriculture settlement under section 72(2) of the constitution of Zimbabwe,” the notice, published in last week’s edition of the Government Gazette, reads.
The notice also indicated that the takeover was with immediate effect.As reported by the Zimbabwe Independent recently, deputy chief secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet (Finance and Administration) Martin Rushwaya, is allegedly one of the senior officials angling to get 500 hectares at Hunyani Farm.
A Zanu PF politburo member who is also a senior government official, a cabinet minister and a popular business executive (names supplied) constitute the remainder of the beneficiaries.
According to information at hand, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement has also started dishing out to Zanu PF cronies offer letters for pieces of land on Robert Davenport’s Stapleford Farm in Darwendale.
Lands minister Perrance Shiri, who was not available for comment this week as his mobile phone went unanswered, recently issued a statement denying they were targeting white farmers.
Stapleford Farm is mainly a horticultural hub that produces blue berries, which are exported to the European Union market, earning the country much-needed foreign currency. It also boasts of one of Zimbabwe’s biggest piggeries.
Some of the land there is now going to be shared among a well-connected mining executive who is also former football administrator and two top government officials (names also supplied).
“The minister (Shiri) has already given them the respective offer letters. The three of them went to the Ministry of Lands last week to collect their offer letters and they were full of excitement,” an official said.
The government has also made moves to repossess farms owned by former cabinet ministers Jonathan Moyo, Patrick Zhuwao and Saviour Kasukuwere.