Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Reporter
The fifth largest dairy farmer in Zimbabwe, Mr Gerald Douglas Davison, has been allowed to continue operating on Xekene Farm in Seke in line with Government policy to boost fresh milk delivery and to increase the national herd. Sub-division A of Xekene Farm, measuring 170 hectares, had been compulsorily acquired by Government under the land reform programme and Mr Aaron Madziva was allocated the farm.
However, Government on July 31 this year issued another offer letter to Mr Davison, at the time he was facing eviction from the farm.
Armed with an offer letter, Mr Davison filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court, seeking to bar Mr Madziva and the sheriff from evicting him from the dairy farm.
Justice Chinembiri Bhunu deferred the case to an indefinite date to allow Government to clarify its position considering that Mr Madziva’s offer letter had not yet been cancelled.
Mr Madziva, the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement and the sheriff of Zimbabwe were cited as respondents in the urgent chamber application.
In the court application filed by Harare lawyer, Mr Jonathan Samukange, on behalf of Mr Davison, it was stated that the farmer was one of the best milk producers in the country and that he delivered thousands of litres of milk to Dairibord annually.
Mr Samukange argued that it was Government policy to spare competent dairy farmers from eviction under the land reform programme.
“It is clear that the Government has change of heart and has now realised that dairy farms should not have been acquired in the first place.
“It is for this reason that the Government has now come up with this new policy, which allows dairy farmers to remain on their farms and they are all being given offer letters,” read Mr Samukange’s affidavit.
Mr Samukange stated in the court papers that production of milk was a technical and complex area and that his client was better placed to run the project than the other land beneficiary Mr Madziva.
Mr Madziva is a former police officer.
“Production of milk is specialised farming and I am advised that the first respondent (Mr Madziva) is a former police officer who is not equipped with specialised knowledge and skill to run successful dairy farming.
“The applicant is the fifth largest dairy farmer in the country and delivers thousands of litres of milk to the Dairboard of Zimbabwe.
“Furthermore first respondent will not be able to run a specialised dairy without equipment and I personally doubt very much if he will be able to run even a dairy farm.
“While I believe in time he will be able to run one, but at the present moment he will not be able to do it instantaneously . . . ”
Early this year, High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi, ruled that beneficiaries of the land reform programme who are under-using their land should have their offer letters withdrawn to pave way for more deserving farmers.
Justice Mathonsi made the remarks while confirming the withdrawal of an offer letter from Mutare businessman Mr Fungai Chaeruka, and the subsequent reallocation of the same land to the former owner, Ms Heather Guild.
Mr Chaeruka lost the land after it came to the authorities’ attention that he was underusing 498 hectares of Lot 5, Mazonwe Farm in Mutare.
The court heard that Mr Chaeruka was practising horticulture on less than one hectare, leaving more than 497 hectares idle.