Zimbabwe seizes land from allies of former leader Mugabe

Thursday January 23 2020

A resettled farmer opens a furrow in his field

A resettled farmer opens a furrow in his field with an ox-drawn plough on Eden farm on November 27, 2017 in Beatrice, Zimbabwe. AFP PHOTO | JEKESAI NJIKIZANA 

KITSEPILE NYATHI
By KITSEPILE NYATHI
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Zimbabwe is repossessing land grabbed by former president Robert Mugabe's allies during a controversial agrarian reform programme.

Most of the land targeted for repossession is owned by Grace Mugabe, the former president’s widow, and allies in the ruling ZANU PF.
Mr Mugabe was toppled in a coup in 2017 and died in Singapore last September.

Former first lady Ms Mugabe has already lost one farm. Other people affected include former ministers Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere and Mr Mugabe's nephew Patrick Zhuwao, who are all currently living in exile.

The former ministers were recently issued with eviction letters as the government stated that their farms were underutilised.

Prof Moyo, a former Higher Education minister and one time ruling party strategist, has since taken the government to court, arguing that the state’s actions were politically motivated and had nothing to do with the alleged underutilisation of the land.
“I have always had problems with this farm whenever I have fallen out of favour with the ruling elite,” Prof Moyo said in court papers filed at the Harare High Court.

“I must point out that the military, led by the respondent [Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri] announced that I was one of the criminals around the president who had to be weeded out.”

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Soon after Mr Mugabe’s death, the government initiated a process to seize at least four farms owned by the long time ruler’s family.

The farms, located west of Harare, house a dairy products venture, an elite school and an orphanage that were started by Ms Mugabe. They are worth millions of dollars.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has also publicly stated that Mr Mugabe’s family owned at least 16 farms, and indicated they would be repossessed in line with the government’s “one family, one farm policy”.

Critics say the Mugabe land reforms benefited the former ruler’s cronies, who are holding onto it for speculation.

Zimbabwe’s economic collapse has been blamed on the land reform programme as it decimated the agriculture industry, which was the backbone of the economy.

The European Union last week said most of Zimbabwe’s commercial farms were lying fallow due to bad government policies and corruption.

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