But They Are Not Even Farmers
President Robert Mugabe, via Gushungo Holdings, now owns 10 601 hectares (25 760 acres) of the most fertile farms and rich land in the highest rainfall areas in Zimbabwe - among them the 873 hectare Sigaro Farm, home of National Tested Seeds, Zimbabwe’s largest producer of agricultural seeds and Africa’s first ISO certified seed producer - now derelict.
Phil Matibe continues to mourn the destruction of agriculture through corruption and exposes how Mugabe's land reform was all about chefs taking land for themselves.
Other farms in Mugabe's stable include the 1 200 hectare Gwebi Wood Farm - formerly owned by indigenous Zimbabwean, Washington Matsaire, CEO Standard Bank, exporter of passion fruit - now unutilised, burnt to the ground;
The 1 287 hectare Gwina Farm, former owner Vernon Nicolle, kicked out by High Court Judge Ben Hlatshwayo, himself kicked out by Grace Marufu-Mugabe on behalf of her son from her first marriage, Russell Goreraza. The Nicolles were the largest single wheat producers with the biggest private irrigation and grain silo infrastructure in Zimbabwe, now unutilised. It goes on and on.
Under Mugabe’s rule, all Zimbabweans are the ultimate losers. The current fast track land acquisition exercise simply supplants a once stubborn minority racial elite with a deceitful clique of the political elite. This “land reform” is an opportunistic political manoeuvre, which merely transfers “ownership” from one affluent clique to another.
The once productive farms that belonged to “Mr Colonial Settler”, taken under the pretext of correcting a colonial wrong, are now the private properties of revolutionaries and pseudo revolutionaries. The hordes of youths, who performed the farm evictions-(jambanja), with orders from their revered “chefs”, are now watching from the fringes. Their comrades in arms, the chefs, now overindulge on the spoils of the “revolution”. Soon the youth will become restless; they are unemployed and disproportionably swell the hungry ranks of the landless poor.
A comprehensive land audit for Zimbabwe will bring to finality the land inequity question and lawfully align the nation on a conclusive agrarian reform program.
The ZANU (PF) chain of command, has now taken all the best irrigable farms in areas such as Mvurwi, Mtepatepa, Mazowe, Enterprise, Concession, Darwendale, Banket, Middle Sabi, etc., which have the finest agricultural land, accompanying agricultural equipment, and infrastructure. The poor landless farmers, already eking a living from marginal lands, are allocated bigger plots in moisture deficient areas like Chiredzi, Mwenezi, Ngezi, Gutu, Gokwe, Rutenga, etc., regions that cannot sustain rainfed agriculture.
When did the dignified fair play policy of a “one-man one-farm” turn into “one-man multiple-farms”? Why is it that only senior ZANU (PF) officials from the same ethnic group, are allocated all the prime farms, which are not subdivided into minimum sizes?
Mugabe via Gushungo Holdings now owns 10 601 hectares (25 760 acres) of the most fertile farms and rich land in the highest rainfall areas in Zimbabwe thus becoming Zimbabwe’s biggest landlord:
1. Foyle Farm, Mazowe—former owner Ian Webster—area 1 000 hectares, now Gushungo Dairy Farm – “The Agricultural Rural Development Authority (ARDA) has now proposed to ‘buyback’ Gushungo Farm to save the Mugabe family from appearing at variance with government’s policies”;
2. Iron Mask Estate, Mazowe—taken by Grace under the pretext of creating an orphanage, former owner John Matthews—area 1 046 hectares—now defunct;
3. Sigaro Farm, Mazowe—Deed of Transfer 8170/2000, 873 hectares, former owner Joe Kennedy, home of National Tested Seeds, Zimbabwe’s largest producer of agricultural seeds and Africa’s first ISO certified seed producer—now derelict;
4. Gwebi Wood Farm, Mazowe—former owner an indigenous Zimbabwean, Washington Matsaire, CEO Standard Bank, exporter of passion fruit, area 1 200 hectares—unutilised, burnt to the ground;
5. Gwina Farm, Banket—Deed of Grant 11120/00, former owner Vernon Nicolle, 1 287 hectares. Ben Hlatshwayo, a high court judge who chaired the commission, which drew up the constitution that was rejected in a referendum in 2000. He had evicted Vernon Nicolle, and was himself unceremoniously evicted by Grace Mugabe to make way for her son from her first marriage, Russell Goreraza. The Nicolle’s were the largest single wheat producers with the biggest private irrigation and grain silo infrastructure in Zimbabwe, unutilised;
6. Leverdale Farm, Banket—former owner Piers Nicolle, 1 488hectares, now derelict;
7. Highfield Farm, Norton—area 445 hectares, where he keeps five camels—gifts from Gadaffi all nearby farms were acquired by Mugabe to create a “security buffer zone”. Mugabe now occupies 4 050 hectares on all the farms below the banks of Lake Darwandale.
8. Cressydale Estate, Norton—Deed of Grant 676/79 former owner Skea;
9. John O’Groat Farm, Norton—former owner Skea;
10. Tankatara Farm, Norton—former owner Skea;
11. Clifford Farm, Norton—former owner Skea;
12. Zvimba—Mugabe owns 60 hectares, his traditional home, where villages nearby were demolished and villagers evicted to make way for Mugabe’s expanded homestead.
Gushungo Holdings corruptly utilises the services of ARDA, itself a technically insolvent state agricultural parastatal, to manage Mugabe’s vast farms at taxpayers’ expense but for the financial benefit of the Mugabe family. Mugabe by virtue of his status does not pay taxes.
Twelve tax-paying farmers have been dispossessed of their productive agricultural businesses to make way for a single non-farmer, non-taxpayer, Robert Mugabe.
Zimbabwe must separate the business of an individual, Mugabe, from that of the nation. The land ownership map of Zimbabwe now resembles the old colonial Land Apportionment Act of 1930 and the Land Tenure Act of 1969 map, with the previous white farming areas replaced with ZANU (PF)’s political nouveau riche—who are not even farmers.
Nepotism allowed the Robert Mugabe family to misappropriate a further 10 260 hectares (24 932 acres) of land earmarked for resettlement from farmers he terms, “the offspring of colonial settlers”. Mugabe’s brother-in-law, Reward Marufu, got Leopards Vlei Farm, Glendale, 1 294 hectares and Kachere Farm, Mazowe, 880 hectares; Mugabe’s sister-in-law, Rose Marufu, got Wooller Farm, Glendale, 436 hectares; Mugabe’s sister, Sabina, got Mlembwe Farm, Makonde, 1 037 hectares, Longwood Farm, Makonde, 924 hectares, and Gowrie Farm, Norton, 430 hectares; and Mugabe’s nephew Leo Mugabe got Diandra, Darwandale, 815 hectares, Nangadza, Mhangura, 1 200 hectares, and Journey’s End, Makonde, 3 000 hectares; and nephew Patrick Zhuwao got Marivale Farm, Mazowe, 244 hectares; all are amongst the country’s largest multiple landowners. On some of these farms, the farmer was killed and the workers’ houses were burnt to compel the landless workers to vacate the properties.
How can one man, in a land hungry nation, take for himself twelve farms, evict twelve farmers, and displace over 14 000-farm workers and their families in the name of land reform? A single family, Mugabe, collectively misappropriated twenty-four farms totalling 20 861 hectares (50 692 acres) of prime land. Farms meant for resettling landless Zimbabweans, now belong to Gushungo and most lie unutilised. All this plunder to nourish the insatiable greed of a few spoiled relatives, who were already privileged by their relation to Mugabe.
Today, January 2010, the eviction of 10 000 villagers from the one million acre Nuanetsi Ranch in Mwenezi is underway, to make way for Mugabe’s business partner and preferred white associate—Billy Rautenbach.
Why do persons who claim to be the liberators feel they are entitled to all the land and yet have compensated themselves for their war contributions ten times over?
The culture of the haphazard farm invasions, evictions, seizures of private businesses and property, will not end when the last white farmers are off the land. A new wave of acrimonious dispossessions will commence, whereby indigenous will be evicting indigenous on a flimsy political raison d’être. Mugabe’s lieutenants have now plagiarised and perfected their commander in chief’s template for multiple farm ownership.
What does correcting a colonial imbalance mean? Did colonial settlers take all the land, now owned by Gushungo, from Mugabe’s family in the 1890’s? Land must be returned to its rightful indigenous peoples, not to an ethnically skewed political party elite. A once proud food self-sufficient agrarian society has been reduced into a beggar nation.
A recent survey by the General Agricultural Plantations Workers Union (GAPWUZ) revealed that the conditions of service for the farm workers on Gushungo Holdings and other acquired farms now owned by ZANU (PF) officials are no better and in most cases worse than the conditions of the previous farm owners.
How does Grace Mugabe, a mere pool typist in the President’s office, without formal agricultural training whatsoever, become Zimbabwe’s largest agricultural landowner?
“Let me keep my Zimbabwe”, said Mugabe addressing the 2002 Earth Summit, September 2 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“True, some land was bought by a few Cabinet Ministers. They bought the land. No minister, to my knowledge acquired land which was meant for resettlement”, said Mugabe in an ABC interview with Jonathan Holmes in March 1998.
“I will never, never, never, never surrender, Zimbabwe is mine”, Mugabe said addressing the ZANU-PF National Annual People’s Conference in Bindura on 19 December 2008.
Mugabe and his associates seem to believe in the politics of entitlement and ZANU (PF) treats Zimbabwe as a private fiefdom. Mugabe also sanctioned the evictions of fellow indigenous farm owners to appease a restive wife and punish his political enemies.
He claims to be an altruistic revolutionary; the ultimate selfless freedom fighter who supposedly sacrificed all to participate in the liberation of Zimbabwe, therefore his disgraceful excessiveness is morally repugnant and criminal. To deviously acquire farms and cunningly become the new absentee landlord, the enthusiastic occupier of the very farms that create a new land imbalance, is predatory and disingenuous.
As Mugabe preaches the virtues of land reform, the one-man one-farm policy, he blatantly hoards the same vestiges of colonial rule meant for redistribution to the landless. The very corrupt practises he conveniently and loudly despises within earshot of credulous followers, he himself illegally practises behind closed doors.
The current fast track land programme is a ruse to steal agricultural businesses from one sector of the economy and only unfairly enrich a particular clique—ZANU (PF).
Does land in Zimbabwe only belong to ZANU (PF) and its “war veterans”? Is Mugabe above the law? Is Mugabe a landless peasant who deserves to be allocated twelve farms? Has Mugabe’s seizure of twelve farms helped in decongested communal areas?
Land is the nucleus for sustainable development and the year 2010 gives Zimbabwe an opportunity to embark on an all-inclusive, sustainable agrarian reform exercise that is transparent and irreversible. My desire is to return home to a country and tolerant society that no longer focuses on its colonial past but embraces progress with values that submits all its peoples, regardless of political affiliation, to the rule of law.
The land audit, will determine, as with Bob Marley’s lyrical words on Zimbabwe’s Independence in 1980, “Soon we will find out who is the real revolutionary”.
Phil Matibe – www.madhingabucketboy.com