Farmers negotiate with govt

Targeted white farmers avoid courts, enter private negotiations with government

15 October 2017

Tourism minister Edgar Mbwembwe

WHITE commercial farmers whose properties have been targeted for fresh invasions have resorted to private negotiations with the government or the potential new farm owners, abandoning the courts.

Since the start of the land invasions in the early 2000s, white farmers whose land would have been repossessed by the government under the controversial programme, would approach the courts seeking redress.

However, a member of the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) said the remaining white farmers still on the land had adopted a new approach and were directly approaching the government if their land was identified for resettlement instead of the courts as in previous cases.

"Farm invasions are underway across the country, but the affected farmers are now engaging the government or new owners directly to negotiate for downsizing of the land," the farmer who asked not be identified said.

"This new approach has seen some of the targeted farmers remaining on the land, but using less hectarage to accommodate new settlers. Even senior CFU officials are not up to speed with what is going on as the affected farmers are reluctant to engage the union, but negotiate directly with the government," he said.

The farmer said some white farmers had, during this year's harvest season, been evicted from their farms without harvesting their crops as new owners moved in.

"However, the affected farmers feel if they do not make noise about the forced evictions and privately engage the government, they might be allowed by the government to return to their farms," he said.

President Robert Mugabe has in recent months intensified his call for the government to repossess all the remaining white owned farms and redistribute them to the landless Zanu PF youths.

Soon after Mugabe's threats, a top cleric, Trevor Manhanga, with links to Zanu PF, grabbed Lesbury Farm in Rusape, Manicaland. The farm is owned by Robert Smart.

Two government ministers, Tabitha Kanengoni-Malinga [Minister of State in Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko’s office] and Edgar Mbwembwe [Tourism Minister], are also reported to have invaded two farms, Argosy and Chipunga farms in Marondera.

The two farms are owned by brothers, Stephen and David Worswick.

Senior military officials and Zanu PF are reported to have grabbed part of Blackfordby College of Agriculture in Concession, Mashonaland Central. The elite college is renowned for training students in tobacco farming from the SADC region.