Senior civil servant invades farm

Senior civil servant invades Centenary Farm

Farming operations are once again under threat on Centenary Farm in the Figtree district of Matabeleland South where commercial farmer Dave Conolly still has a horticultural enterprise and breeds Hereford and Senepol cattle.

The Zimbabwean – by own correspondent

17 September 2014

Dr Ray Ndhlukula, the deputy secretary in the office of the President, has tried repeatedly to take over the farm, harassing Conolly and his workers with impunity, despite a High Court order barring him from doing so.

Ndhlukula claims the farm has been given to him by President Mugabe personally and has threatened Conolly with forcible occupation. Last Thursday two vehicles drove up to Conolly’s homestead and dropped off seven people, together with a number of cartons of beer, indicating that a “pungwe” was planned.

The men, who said they were under instructions from Ndhlukula, built a fire on the lawn in front of the house and, together with six more people who arrived in an unmarked vehicle, began to drink heavily.

The following morning, Ndhlukula wife descended on the farm with a truck loaded with belongings that were carted into the homes of Conolly’s farm workers who had been evicted by the Ndhlukulas on August 5.

On Sunday the invaders took Conolly’s irrigation pipes from his 300,000 onion plants – which still required irrigation - and set them up on a field where they were preparing the land.

“In addition to my onion crop, we still have 50,000 cabbage seedlings due to start being planted out tomorrow but today my workers – who are no longer able to live in their homes on the farm - have again been forced to stop working. It’s impossible to farm productively under these lawless conditions,” warned Conolly in a telephone interview.

“It’s time to stop the land grab, which continues to wreck the agricultural sector – and the country’s long-term prospects – and rebuild the economy for the benefit of the Zimbabwean people,” he said.

“I am aware that Dr Ndhlukula has other farms, including Wilfred Hope’s farm in Marula and Vlakfontein – otherwise known as Subdivision 2 of Marula Block – while I do not have any other farm,” added Conolly.

A large blue Sinotruk, registration number ADA 4421, confirms Conolly’s claim as the passenger door is clearly marked: “Ray’s farm plc, Subdivision 2, Marula Block, Mangwe”.

This latest case of harassment coincides with warnings that Zimbabweans will have to brace themselves for excessive price hikes and food shortages in the coming months following the government's increase of duty on a number of basic food commodities. The collapse of the commercial farming sector is a major contributor to the country’s ballooning import bill which stood at a massive US$3 billion for the first six months of 2014.