By Nhau Mangirazi
KAROI– Government has identified at least 37 farms likely to be downsized and accommodate new farmers and top politicians have been targeted after the land audit, Zim Morning Post can exclusively reveal.
According to sources the farms identified are among the under-utilised and those exceeding 400 hectares .
One of our sources revealed that Government has done all necessary procedures to work out on plans and allocate the land to new farmers and top politicians were affected.
“Among those whose farms have been identified are from some top politicians with over 400 hectares and under-utilizing the farms besides adequate arable land, better rainfall pattern and accessing farming inputs,” said one of the sources speaking on condition of anonymity.
Other sources revealed that calls for those who want to be allocated will be made soon.
‘As you know that this is different from land reform through invasion of early 2000, new farmers have to apply formally to responsible department with their projections of farming as a business unit unlike in the previous era that was chaotic and has seen some failing to utilise the large-scale farms they got,’ added a member of local land committee, chaired by District Administrator office.
Other members are from Zimbabwe National Army, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, President Office, Agriculture Extension Office, Hurungwe Rural District Council and Karoi Town Council among others.
It could not be established how many top politicians are likely to be affected but among them is former Hurungwe East MP Sarah Mahoka who defected to National Patriotic Front.
Although Mahoka has utilised part of her Munandi farm, it is one of the largest farms around Karoi farming town.
Former Hurungwe North MP and deputy minister Reuben Marumahoko had to approach the courts after some war veterans had invaded his Marshala farm in 2017.
They claimed the farms were above the stipulated 400 hectares.
Nyamaranda farm belonging to former tourism minister Francis Nhema’s brother has been under-utilized and is also expected to be allocated to productive new farmers.
In January resident minister Mary Mliswa- Chikoka hinted that Government was making final logistics after availing resources to evict illegal settlers who benefited land through corrupt means that manifested in Hurungwe within Mashonaland West province.
Mliswa-Chikoka told heads of Government that ‘corruption in land allocation is a cancer’ that must be uprooted and stopped in agriculture sector.
‘Hurungwe administrative district has more cases of illegal settlers who were forced into some farms through corruption by some individuals and politicians. As much as we are under-resourced financially due to economic woes affecting the whole nation, Government has managed to get resources to evict illegal settlers around Hurungwe district and other places within the province,’ said Mliswa-Chikoka then.
She revealed that some of the suspected illegal settlers were allocated land during the height of election fever where some politicians used their muscle to acquire grazing pastures for domestic animals.
‘This is totally unacceptable in Hurungwe that is agro-based but we are not tapping on our natural resources such as land. We have individuals who are breeding the corruption cancer but we can’t allow it to manifest forever. Due to corruption where land has been abused for personal enrichment, we must shun abused of power, if we want to be progressive,’ she added.
Mliswa-Chikoka said corruption is intertwined in different public departments
‘We must have zero tolerance to corruption. Many departments including lands, Arex, Ministry of Women Affairs are worse in Hurungwe and all we are saying is reform or you will be expelled with a criminal record,’ she said during a frank and candid meeting recently.
However, a lands officer said they are no longer working on land disputes.
‘Land issues are now under Zimbabwe Land Commission and we have not done much about these conflicts around here,’ said the officer.
But Mliswa-Chikoka was not amused by the response calling that the land audit will expose illegal settlers who must face eviction.
She could not reveal how much was allocated for the exercise and when it will kick-off ahead of the ongoing farming season.
‘The eviction is running together with latest land audit that has exposed illegal settlers around Hurungwe and Government will act. If you are one of those who facilitated land to these illegal settlers go and tell them to go back from where they came from, be it Gokwe or wherever,’ said the minister.
Ironically, Mahoka originally is from Gokwe and is among those suspected of allocating illegal farmers plots in grazing pastures during her tenure in office .
Mahoka denied any wrongdoing.
‘I never worked in any Government department and did not allocate land to anyone,’ said Mahoka in a telephone interview.