Army colonel defies govt orders

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Agriculture is one of the key primary industries in Zimbabwe, with a huge contribution to employment, gross domestic product and exports

BY NHAU MANGIRAZI
A TOP army official, Colonel Leonard Gwanzura has defied government orders to stop disrupting farming activities at a farm owned by white commercial farmer, Garry Hobbs in Hurungwe.

Gwanzura has reportedly stopped Hobbs from planting maize.

The contested Chisuwa Farm, also known as John Impi Farm, is situated about 30km north of Karoi town in Hurungwe North constituency.

Gwanzura evicted Hobbs last month through a High Court order after he was served with an eviction order in November 2020. Another eviction notice was also sent to Hobbs in March 2021.

In December, Information ministry secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana said it was a “minor boundary” issue when the eviction notice was served on Hobbs.

Mangwana further said the eviction would not stand, adding that Hobbs would continue farming despite the eviction order.

“Mr Hobbs remains at his farm. He has not been evicted. The second republic stands for sanity on all farms and its policy is that all agricultural land should be used productively by beneficiaries. The boundary confusion is being resolved by relevant authorities,” he tweeted then.

But Hobbs yesterday told NewsDay that he has been forced to stop planting.

‘‘It is true that Colonel Gwanzura stopped us from planting maize and he is the only one who is not working well with me. I am leasing land from other settlers at the farm,” Hobbs said.

“He (Col Gwanzura) tried to evict me before Christmas and ministry officials came to solve the matter and it was stopped. He has changed the whole map and has a different map that he is using to mislead both officials and the courts over the pegging of the plots at the farm. We are trying to sort it out amicably.”

Hobbs was allocated 237 hectares (ha) from the previous 1 208ha that he owned.

Gwanzura also confirmed stopping Hobbs from conducting farming activities, saying that he had encroached on his farm.

‘‘I had only 31ha and Hobbs was using part of my plot. I have the right to stop him. This is my farm. He can go wherever he wants, but I have the right to be at the farm, and he must move away,’’ Gwanzura told NewsDay.

Hurungwe MP Goodlucky Kwaramba (Proportional Representation), Frank Yona, Lazarus Kawanza, one Chundu and Samuel Marufu, who is a brother-in-law to late former President Robert Mugabe were allocated plots at the farm.

All offer letters were withdrawn for re-pegging.

Hobbs had close links with Mugabe.

Sources revealed that he enjoyed protection from eviction during Mugabe’s reign.

“He enjoyed immunity from the chaotic land reform programme, looking after his (Mugabe’s) in-laws (Marufus) that he supported with all farming expertise,’’ said a senior Zanu PF source, who refused to be named.

Despite having an offer letter, Hobbs and his family were forced off the farm by the Deputy Sheriff accompanied by armed police officers last year.

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