Government has unearthed a land scam in which white commercial farmers are being shielded by Zanu-PF officials under special sectors exempted from redistribution such as dairy and seed production.
This comes in the wake of revelations by President Mugabe at the weekend that former Mashonaland East provincial chair Ray Kaukonde, was protecting 163 white farmers in the province.
Indications are that white commercial farmers are still occupying vast swathes of land under the guise of special sectors yet they are engaging in other farming activities. As such, Lands and Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora, yesterday told The Herald that Government was keen to see practical activities at every farm. He said this would help to uproot malcontents abusing the special sector exemption facility.
“Remember we have spared some sectors such as dairy and tobacco seed production,” he said.
“Now we have realised that in some cases a farmer claims that he is into dairy yet he has only three cattle and we have our own farmers who can do dairy much better than that,” he said.
“In some provinces our officials will be told that do not touch this farm and so we now want to visit farm by farm and see if the activities there are in line with Government policy.
“In Mashonaland West the figures of farms that we get from provincial offices are different from what is on the ground.
“As such, we are now asking officials from the head office to go on the ground and do the verification.”
Minister Mombeshora said the Mashonaland East audit, which unearthed Cde Kaukonde’s corrupt activities would be replicated in other provinces. Although it emerged that Cde Kaukonde was protecting 163 white farmers, the number might be higher than that because the audit only covered one district.
Minister Mombeshora said the problem of shielding white farmers was also prevalent in Mashonaland West.
In Mashonaland Central, Minister Mombeshora said, the problem was lesser compared to the other Mashonaland provinces.
President Mugabe indicated that the audits that helped unmask Cde Kaukonde’s shenanigans would be carried out in other provinces this week.
He said it emerged that in some cases Ministers did not bother to check and were told by party provincial chairpersons that there was no longer resettlement land in the provinces. Last year Government uncovered another scandal where land was allocated to 10 year olds.
In light of that, Minister Mombeshora said, Government would repossess the land that was acquired fraudulently.
In some cases, he said, the ministry was given wrong names of farms resulting in double allocation. On subletting of farms, Minister Mombeshora said such practices were illegal although Government tolerated approved joint venture agreements.