BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
A RETIRED colonel and Zipra war veteran has accused the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Retired Air Marshal Perrance Shiri of taking a farm he has occupied for 17 years on tribal grounds and giving it to Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe.
Rtd Col Protarcius Ngwenya, a Zipra veteran who went under the moniker Comrade Richard Mataure during the 1970s war of liberation has written to Shiri, copied to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Kembo Mohadi alleging the plot to take over his farm on tribal grounds.
But the two Cabinet ministers have dismissed the allegations, saying they followed normal procedure. Shiri accused Ngwenya of subletting the farm to a white farmer.
In his letter, Ngwenya said he was disheartened and shocked by the persistence and frantic efforts by the two ministers to remove him from Collingwood Farm, also called Southwell Farm, in Mashonaland
Central on tribal grounds.
“I’m disheartened and shocked by your persistence and frantic efforts of tribally trying (sic) removing me from Mashonaland again with a pretext of farm downsizing,” Ngwenya said.
Ngwenya said in 2002 he was allocated Mashona-Kop Farm in Mashonaland East but was chased away by a former minister (name supplied) and told look for a farm in Matabeleland.
“You my own comrade have now joined the fray. For the past few months you have been planning to dislodge me from Southwell Farm, first you tried to smuggle in (a named Zimplats senior executive) when you sent your Flight Lieutenant Madzvamuse with (sic) pretext of negotiating an agro-joint venture project with me,” Ngwenya said.
“I have been on Collingwood Farm for 17 years, I fully developed an underground irrigation of above 4 300 metres plus have installed a 1 800 HP pumping capacity. This is the infrastructure ministers Shiri and Kazembe are targeting to cherry pick (sic),” he told NewsDay.
“Cde minister, Southwell is my only liberation gain just like you having your east of Bindura farm. Any effort (sic) like what you’re about to do would be very painful to me, my family and other comrades from the revolution.”
Ngwenya said he had 115 heads of cattle plus goats, while all the dry pasture was taken by grazing land and the dairy herd of 500 cows is about to be restored under the ministry’s restoration programme. He further said the arable land left from 400 hectares would be 200 and this would be divided into horticulture export land and general cropping.
“Cde minister (sic) hatred should end among comrades. I was meant to believe you were non-tribal and not harbouring ancient Zanla-Zipra primitive animosity. Now you have left me baffled and surprised. As a senior commander of our revolution I urge you to put a bit of sensitivity to the ongoing tribalism in our country,” Ngwenya further said.
“Any injustice (sic) exacted on me by you, minister Shiri because of the history will be a further indelible scar like the many historical scars that remain haunting our people till this day.”
Contacted for a comment, Kazembe said he was allocated the farm officially by the Lands ministry.
“I was allocated a farm officially and procedurally by the Ministry of Lands,” Kazembe said without further elaboration on the role of a police base he has set on the farm.
Shiri dismissed the allegations of tribal land grab, saying Ngwenya was a beneficiary of the land reform programme and the farm was 656, 79 hectares but only a maximum of 80 hectares was being utilised.
The minister said of the 80ha being utilised, 60ha was being used by a white farmer who he said had entered into some gentlemen’s agreement with Ngwenya which was not endorsed by his ministry.
“In fact Ngwenya is a beneficiary of the land reform programme and that he was allocated Southwell Farm, measuring 656,79ha in the area of Concession, Mashonaland Central Province. The farm is almost all arable but only a maximum of about 80ha out of 656,79ha was being utilised for cropping. Over and above that there is a herd of about 90 cattle. Of the said 80ha farming operations at the farm, 60ha was being used by some white farmer who had entered into some form of gentlemen’s agreement,” Shiri said.
“From the aforementioned, two things come to the fore, first the farm was grossly underutilised. Secondly the farm was above the maximum allowable farm size for that area. The area where the farm is located falls in ecological region two and at the time of downsizing the maximum allowable farm size for that area was 400ha.”
The minister, however, could not say why Kazembe abandoned his previously allocated 130ha Klein Copje Farm near Blackforby, which is about 45km from the contentious farm.