Government has been sucked into the row over a 100-hectare tobacco farm in Centenary where British doctor, Sylvester Nyatsuro, is allegedly fighting to forcibly eject its white owner, Philip Rankin.
Rankin yesterday said government has since reopened a 2007 case in which he was accused of refusing to vacate a designated farm.
“I have been asked to appear in court and I am waiting for the magistrate as we speak. Nobody had been allocated the farm, it is the government that wants it I suppose now. I was remanded to November 17,” Rankin said in a telephone interview yesterday.
“I am not a politician, my name has been on a map with the ministry and I have no idea what that means. I just want to be left in peace to farm.”
Nyatsuro is reportedly a close relative of President Robert Mugabe’s family and has been allegedly using his connections to have Rankin ejected.
The medical practitioner has admitted he is related to Mugabe, but claims he had in no way used his connections to secure the farm.
Rankin’s lawyer Nyaradzo Maphosa of Sawyer and Mkushi confirmed her client had been issued with summons to appear in court.
“We only have summons and he is said to have contravened section 3 subsection 2 (a) of the Gazetted Land (consequential provisions) Act Chapter 20:28 that relates to refusing to vacate gazetted land. The summons make reference to a 2007 case,” Maphosa said.
Rankin seemed to have survived the mayhem that has wrecked the country’s agriculture and seen thousands of white farmers giving up their land, until Nyatsuro suddenly pitched up and demanded that the tobacco farmer leaves.
Rankin claimed his farm was initially listed for compulsory acquisition in 2000 before it was delisted until 2007.
The farmer was for almost two weeks holed up in his homestead after Nyatsuro’s agents refused to let him out. They had reportedly changed all locks to the farm’s gates.
Nyatsuro was in the country last month to promote his Zimbabwe Diaspora Skills Network through which Zimbabwean professionals abroad can help in the recovery of the country through skills-sharing with public and private institutions back home.
Rankin’s troubles come at a time when there seems to have been a thawing of relations between Mugabe’s administration and the remaining white farmers.
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa was guest of honour at the Commercial Farmers’ Union congress early this week and called for concerted efforts to return Zimbabwe to its position as the breadbasket of Africa.