George Maponga in Masvingo
The recent takeover of a white-owned farm on the outskirts of Masvingo city by new Zanu-PF provincial chairman Cde Ezra Chadzamira has sparked resistance from villagers in the area.
Cde Chadzamira was allocated the 121-hectare Crest Ibeka Farm, about 10km west of Masvingo city, that formerly belonged to a white cattle farmer, Ms Yvonne Goddard.
Ms Goddard’s farm had been initially spared acquisition for resettlement purposes at the behest of the provincial leadership.
It had been deemed to be of strategic economic importance to Masvingo owing to its cattle breeding operations that benefited over 100 villagers from surrounding communities.
Previous attempts by indigenous farmers to take over Crest Ibeka Farm were blocked by war veterans who said Ms Goddard should be allowed to remain on her farm as she was assisting locals to improve the quality of their cattle herd.
Ms Goddard was also into milk production before the recent allocation of her farm to Cde Chadzamira through an offer letter issued by the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement.
War veterans yesterday said they were investigating the allocation of the farm to the Zanu-PF Masvingo provincial chair.
Provincial war veterans chairman Cde Tendeukai Chinooneka said there were murmurs of disgruntlement over the takeover of the farm by Cde Chadzamira.
“We have received complaints from some people who were initially allocated Cresta Ibeka Farm, but were eventually blocked from taking over the property on the grounds that the white owner was assisting local people in cattle breeding,’’ he said.
“As war veterans, we have opened our own investigations to establish the true history behind Cresta Ibeka Farm and how Cde Chadzamira ended up getting the property, yet there were some indigenous people who were initially interested in taking over the farm.
“We will issue a full statement after investigations are complete.’’
Cde Chadzamira said his takeover of the farm was done above board.
“There are people with hidden personal agendas who are spreading false information about my takeover of Cresta Ibeka Farm,” he said.
“I have a valid offer letter issued to me by the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement, meaning that I was lawfully allocated this farm.
“The farm was lying idle and not fully utilised and recently the provincial lands committee met villagers from the surrounding community where we assured them that hybrid bull production was going to continue. We could not sit and fold our hands watching underutilised land that has potential to help in the growth of the economy.”
Chairperson of the Masvingo provincial lands committee and Provincial Affairs Minister Senator Shuvai Mahofa could not be contacted as she is on leave.
Cresta Ibeka Farm was one of the six white-owned farms that initially had been recommended to be spared acquisition for resettlement purposes on the basis of being of strategic economic importance to Masvingo province.