Govt rescues top coffee farmer
Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Government has resolved the ownership dispute of a portion of Farfell Coffee Estate in Chipinge involving Messrs Richard Le Vieux and Remembrance Mbudzana to enable continued commercial production of the crop at the farm in the hands of the fomer.
Cabinet made the decision at its sitting on May 28, reflecting President Mnangagwa’s pragmatic and pro-business approach in his administration, that has also been his hallmark in the last two decades when he has made timely interventons to protect businesses from rent-seeking behaviour and opportunism in the name of expropriation.
Acting Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Oppah Muchinguri announced the Cabinet’s decision in a statement recently.
Mr Mbudzana had been offered a portion of the estate (Lot 1) but after considering the investments and production currently taking place on that portion of the farm, Government decided to revoke the offer letter and find him alternative land.
“After taking all factors into consideration, Cabinet resolved and directed as follows (a) that Mr Le Vieux be issued with an offer letter for his portion of Farfell Coffee Estates, that is Lot 2 (220 hactares) in keeping with the Government framework of maximum farm sizes (b) that if he so wishes, Mr Le Vieux be issued with an appropriate lease agreement with respect to Lot 1, so as to guarantee continuity of the very productive and strategic commercial operations currently taking place at Lot 1; (c) that the offer letter of Lot 1 (229 hectares) to Mr Mbudzana be consequently revoked; and (d) that as, any Zimbabwean, Mr Mbudzana can be considered for land allocation in other available areas in Chipinge District,” Minister Muchinguri said.
Mr Le Vieux expressed satisfaction with Government’s decision.
“The last few months there has been some confusion as to the correct title and tenure of this land by the company and I am happy to say this has been dealt with effectively by Cabinet, by the President and it sends a positive message to all who are producing and exporting in the country that we cannot have disruptions, that we cannot (promote) instability and that we cannot have opportunistic seizures of assets which is what was going on in my case.
“What you see here is a 25-year investment, it doesn’t happen overnight and it’s not easy,” Mr Le Vieux said.
The land in question (Lot 1) was initially offered to Chief Mapungwana in 2009 while Mr Le Vieux remained with the remainder (Lot 2).
“However, it later came to the notice of the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement that Chief Mapungwana never took occupation of or utilised Lot 1,” Minister Muchinguri said.
“Instead, he allegedly sold that land to Mr Le Vieux who proceeded to invest heavily and is currently undertaking some productive activities on Lot 1. The ministry then duly revoked the offer letter to Chief Mapungwana in terms of Government policy.”
Minister Muchinguri added that the purported sale of the land was also illegal as ownership of all farmland was vested in the State as required by law.
Apart from coffee Mr Le Vieux is also into avocado and macadamia nuts production.
President Mnangagwa has reiterated that focus should be on productivity adding that resettlement would be done in terms of the law.