JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Zimbabwe’s government says it has seized a farm owned by the family of the late national hero Sydney Malunga, it says to resettle landless families.
Lands minister Anxious Masuka published the notice of acquisition in the Government Gazette last December – but the Malunga family was unaware until this week when they were called by a lands officer.
Masuka said the farm measuring 553 hectares in Nyamandlovu, Matabeleland North, was being compulsorily acquired “for purposes of agriculture resettlement” under section 72(2) of the constitution which allows the government to seize land without compensation except for improvements.
One of Malunga’s children, Siphosami, currently the executive director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), said they would fight the seizure.
He suggested the farm grab was punishment for his human rights work with OSISA.
“Today we received a call from Mr Dodzi at the Lands Office in Bulawayo to tell us that the Zimbabwe government has acquired our privately owned farm and tomorrow they are coming peg it and give it to people they have allocated it to,” Malunga wrote on Twitter.
“This is not about land reform and we will fight it in every way. The farm is wholly privately owned by three black individuals and we only got to see the Government Gazette and acquisition notice issued on December 18 for the first time today after the lands officer gave us the number and told us to go to government printers.”
Malunga said they bought the farm about four years ago, although the listed owner in the government notice is a company called Kershelmer Farms (Private) Limited.
Under Section 295 of the constitution of Zimbabwe, farmers covered by Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (BIPPAs), and indigenous black farmers must be compensated for land taken over for resettlement.
Only in March last year, the government published the Land Commission (Gazetted Land) (Disposal in Lieu of Compensation) Regulations (SI 62 of 2020) which provide that black Zimbabwean farmers can apply to the government “for restoration of title to the piece of agricultural land that was compulsorily acquired from them for resettlement.”
The then lands minister, the late Perrance Shiri, said the seizure of black owned farms was a historical mistake. He said 440 black-owned farms had been gazetted for seizure.
Zimbabwe’s government has since 2000 taken over more than 5,450 farms, mainly from white farmers.-zimlive