I’m not evil: Chauruka


New Bromley Farm owner, Samson Chauruka — who has come under fire for allegedly evicting more than 130 families — has dismissed the reports as baseless and a “mere political gimmick”.

The farmer told NewsDay yesterday the alleged evictions of around 15 families were effected after the former farm owner, Lesley Jane Lombard, obtained a court order to evict the farmers who were resisting to vacate the property she had sold to him.

He dismissed reports by farmers who claimed he had no agreement of sale of the farm and produced a copy of the agreement between himself and Lombard.

Chauruka said: “These evicted people refused to work for a black person regardless of several offers. I even consulted and sought the intervention of local leadership in the area to help them understand reality, but they refused.”

He further said the farm issue had become a political tool as some Western government embassies and some non-governmental organisations were assisting the evicted families with food and clothing while taking photographs which they were posting on the Internet, alleging they reflect after-effects of land reform programme.

“I suspect some politicians are also behind the whole circus realising elections are just around the corner,” Chauruka said.

According to documents, Lombard bought the property in 1996 and employed one full-time worker John Chirwa, but the rest were seasonal workers.

In 2006, after an agreement with the white farmer, Chirwa and six others allegedly formed Mashonaland East Tobacco Graders and Contractors.

They were given a lease to operate the grading sheds, but the lease expired and was renewed.
However, instead of paying for the lease, Chirwa allegedly decided to annex the property under the land reform programme and applied to Ministry of Land, but his application was rejected.

They allegedly decided not to pay utility bills to the white farmer and rentals amounting to
$20 000 over a two-year period.

Chauruka said on December 23 2011, the district administrator’s office offered the affected families accommodation plus 80 hectares of land at Dunstan Farm, but they refused.