Cletus Mushanawani Senior Writer
THE land allocation process does not allow the minister responsible for lands to exercise preference on both the identification of farms to be downsized and prospective farmers to be allocated that land.
This was said by Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri, who also dismissed allegations of tribalism in the exercise.
He said a farmer, Colonel Protarcius Ngwenya (Retired), whose farm is among those identified for downsizing by the Mashonaland Central Provincial Lands Committee, is trying to use the tribal card to win public sympathy.
Col Ngwenya (Rtd) has since written to Minister Shiri and copied the letter to President Mnangagwa and Vice President Kembo Mohadi portraying himself as a victim of tribalism following the downsizing of his Southwell Farm.
The maximum allowed farm size for natural Region Two is 400 hectares yet his farm measures 656,79ha and was reported to be subletting 60ha of the land to another farmer.
He was utilising only 20ha.
“Over the past three to four months, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement has dealt with more than 30 cases where downsizing of farms was done. It is essential to mention that many more cases of that nature are still coming from the provinces. The trend clearly shows that no individual farmer is being targeted in that exercise.
“In the case of Col Ngwenya (Rtd), he is a beneficiary of the land reform programme and was allocated Southwell Farm, measuring 656,79ha in Concession, Mashonaland Central Province. The whole farm is almost arable, but only a maximum of about 80ha out of the 656,79ha was being utilised for cropping. Over and above that, there is a herd of about 90 cattle. Of the said 80ha farming operations, 60ha were being used by a farmer who had entered into some form of gentlemen’s agreement with Rtd Col Ngwenya.
“Col Ngwenya was utilising only 20ha out of the 80ha. It is prudent to highlight that the agreement was not endorsed by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement as required by law,” said Minister Shiri.
The Provincial Lands Committee recommended the downsizing of the farm and allocate the extra land to more beneficiaries.
“I have known Rtd Col Ngwenya since 1976. He is a war veteran and a good friend of mine, but always uses tribalism as a weapon to get what he wants. There are a number of cases where he has used the tribal card to try to seek attention,” Minister Shiri said.
He explained the procedure in downsizing farms.
“After receiving recommendations from the respective provincial lands committee, the ministry proceeds to formally advise the current landholder of Government’s intention to downsize his/her farm clearly indicating the reasons as to why it has been deemed necessary to downsize the farm.
“In that letter of notice, the farmer is requested to indicate his/her acceptance or disapproval of the proposed downsizing within a period of seven days from the period of receiving the notice of the intention to downsize his/her farm.
“If the affected farmer has got issues to raise, he/she raises them with the Ministry,” Minister Shiri said.