From George Maponga in Masvingo
Government has repossessed two farms in Masvingo East farming district following a probe which exposed that the purported black owners were fronting white former farmers. The repossession of the two farms follows a directive issued by the Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora who, last month, ordered a probe into the ownership status of at least 17 farms in the agriculturally-rich district after landless villagers invaded them arguing that their black owners were fronting white former farmers.
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Masvingo Province Cde Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, while refusing to divulge the names of the two farms, yesterday confirmed the repossession adding they were being partitioned for allocation to landless people in the province.
He said the two farms had been taken over by the State with pegging already underway to regularise the settlement of people already on the properties.
He said a total of 17 farms were probed in Masvingo East district to authenticate their ownership structure.
“We successfully completed a probe into the ownership structure of at least 17 farms in Masvingo East district. Out of those farms, we managed to establish that two of the farms were not owned by blacks who claimed to be the owners and we immediately repossessed them. As
I speak pegging of plots is already underway so that our landless people get plots there.
“We carried a thorough probe and the black owners who claimed to own the two farms that I cannot name at the moment failed to produce any documentation to authenticate their ownership of the properties and we repossessed them,’’ he said.
Minister Bhasikiti said Government wanted to speedily regularise the occupation of the two farms by hundreds of landless people who moved into the properties in search of farming land.
He added that Government would not hesitate to repossess farms from blacks who front white farmers as a way evading the land reform programme which sought to redress colonially-engineered inequities in the land ownership system in Zimbabwe.
Hundreds of landless villagers from Zaka, Bikita, Gutu and Chivi have since the beginning of last year, been occupying farms in Masvingo East district setting up make-shift structures arguing that the new black owners were proxies of white former farmers.
Police moved in and destroyed the structures on the farms in Masvingo East and evicted the landless people in September this year but the land hungry villagers refused to move off the land insisting that the new black owners were fronts.
Dr Mombeshora then ordered a probe by the Masvingo provincial leadership to verify the ownership structure of the farms before the eviction of people who had occupied them.
During the probe, black farm owners were asked to produce documentation such as title deeds and receipts showing how they purchased the farms in question from white former farmers.
Masvingo has over 5 000 people on the waiting list for land but officially the province has run out of land for resettlement.