HomeBusinessChinotimba’s son in farm ownership wrangle

Chinotimba’s son in farm ownership wrangle

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A FARM allocated to Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba’s son has not been gazetted for acquisition by government bringing another controversy to the land reform programme.

BUSINESS REPORTER

This comes as a local bank has pulled the plug on a $400 000 facility to Chihosa Estate, a thriving, but capital-intensive macadamia nuts farm following disturbances arising from the ownership wrangle.

This also comes as fears mount that a South African company will put on hold plans to establish a plant for processing macadamia nuts in Chipinge.

Chinotimba’s son Edwin was given an offer letter to occupy the estate located about 21km from Chipinge in Manicaland Province on the strength that it was gazetted for compulsory acquisition by government.

The director of the estate former Metallon executive Collen Gura was accused of occupying gazetted land without an offer letter, resettlement lease and/or permit from the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement, an offence under the Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Act and was told to leave the farm within 45 days.

Investigations by NewsDay established that the lands officer who ordered Gura’s company to exit the farm within 45 days to pave the way for the new owner erred in that the farm was not gazetted for compulsory acquisition by government.

In 2002-2003, the farm was gazetted for acquisition by government. The notice was subsequently withdrawn by the Administrative Court through two court orders. There was no other notice gazetted to acquire the property.

Government sources said yesterday it was an anomaly that the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement had given Edwin the offer letter relying on a non –existent gazetted notice.

Government sources were questioning the acquisition of the farm at a time 60 hectares of macadamia nuts were ready for harvesting with another 100 hectares under seedlings.

Each hectare has 312 trees coming to a total of 18720 trees. Each tree gives an average of 12kg. At an average of $3,15 per kg, the estate was expected to earn $707 616.

There are reports that 100 hectares of seedling has been destroyed in one month. The seedling is worth $312 000.

NewsDay established that running a plantation was a costly exercise as it needed five years for maintenance before harvesting took place. To establish a plantation one requires at least $4 000 per hectare.

Contacted for comment, Gura said the matter “was now with the Ministry of Lands”.

Lands and Rural Resettlement minister Douglas Mombeshora referred all questions to chief lands officer for Manicaland Province Nixon Kutsaranga.

Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandi Chimene said the reprieve the farm got from acquisition was superseded by a constitutional amendment of 2005. Chinotimba was unavailable for comment.

Gura’s company bought the estate in a deed of sale in 2006 that allowed the former owner to utilise part of the land until 2011. Full payment for the property was completed last year.

The acquisition of the farm, if it is allowed to stand, will mirror the controversy that has dogged the land reform exercise with a few politically connected individuals preying on productive farms owned by locals.

A Zanu PF central committee report to last month’s 6th congress said it was against acquisition of land from indigenous people to empower another.

“Hence, where practically possible, the indigenous person should be given back their farms and people resettled thereon relocated,” Zanu PF said.

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