Monday, April 16, 2018

War vets, opposition target Mugabe farms

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THE country’s war veterans have, in a rare show of solidarity, ganged up with opposition parties in a fresh campaign to strip former President Robert Mugabe of his multiple farms for redistribution to millions of deserving Zimbabweans.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association spokesperson Douglas Mahiya confirmed the development yesterday, with the opposition MDC-T and little-known Zimbabwe Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) saying they stood ready to join the campaign to dispossess Mugabe of his reported 20 farms and leave him with one in line with government’s one-man-one-farm policy.
“We fought Mugabe because of his corruption and have demanded for a long time that the policy of one-man-one farm should be implemented without exception. We are not in this supporting or personalising issues against Mugabe, but this has been our clarion call that Mugabe’s corruption was stinking across Zimbabwe, beginning with the multiple farms that he owns,” Mahiya said.
Mugabe has literally been under siege from the governing Zanu PF party apparatchiks since losing power last November, amid reports his Mazowe properties, where former First Lady Grace Mugabe runs an orphanage, citrus plantation and dairy project, had been invaded by gold panners.
MDC-T secretary general Douglas Mwonzora said their campaign was not only targeting Mugabe, but all multiple farm owners.
“There are other senior people in Zanu PF and government who are multiple farm owners. It would be a misnomer to target one person or one family. All people who own multiple farms should be encouraged to return them for allocation to landless Zimbabweans,” he said.
EFF leader Innocent Ndibali said they would soon petition President Emmerson Mnangagwa demanding that he forces Mugabe to relinquish 20 of his 21 farms.
The radical opposition group, whose leadership is in the Diaspora, said it would soon agitate for the invasion of Mugabe’s properties, if no action was taken.
“We, as EFF, are calling on the freedom fighters, traditional leaders and landless citizens to join us as we are lobbying to take over 20 of 21 Mr Mugabe’s farms. We are not apologetic on this and it is not political, but a fair practice, as it addresses the past imbalances.
“Our fathers did not fight and die for one man to have 21 farms. Our fathers did not fight and die to have other races displaced, but to uplift every citizen into same living standards,” the opposition group said.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba, however, seemed to suggest that Mugabe could be done in by his own creation.
“The official policy position is one person one farm. This is a government policy. It was not created by President Mnangagwa, but by the former President (Mugabe),” Charamba told NewsDay.
Last month, State-controlled media claimed that Mugabe had defied his government’s one-person-one-farm policy and allocated multiple farms to his family and close relations, leasing out some of the land to white commercial farmers.
Among other farms Mugabe is believed to have allocated to himself include Gushungo Estates (4 046 hectares) in Mazowe, Gushungo Dairies
(1 000ha), Iron Mask Estate in Mazowe
(1 046ha), Sigaru Farm in Mazowe (873ha), Gwebi Wood (1 200ha) in Mazowe, Gwina Farm in Mazowe (1 445ha), Leverdale Farm in Banket (1 488ha) and Highfield Farm in Banket (445ha).
In Norton, the former President reportedly owns Cressydale Estate (676ha), Tankatara Farm (575ha), John O’Groats’s Farm (760ha), Clifford Farm
(1 050ha) and Bassiville (1 200ha), putting the land holding of Mugabe’s family to about 16 000ha.
Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri has reportedly also launched an investigation into Mugabe’s land ownership.