Shiri saves white farmer from being evicted by ex-minister, farmer says grateful

Perence Shiri is sworn as Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement at State House in Harare, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. Newly appointed Cabinet ministers took their oath of office Monday before President Mnangagwa and will run the country until elections set for 2018. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
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MARONDERA: Lands and agriculture minister, Perrance Shiri on Sunday met a white farmer whose farm was been invaded by a former Cabinet minister and scores of Zanu PF supporters, seriously affecting operations at the property.

According to Newszimbabwe Shiri was in the company of Mashonaland East resident minister, David Musabayana.

During the meeting at Dovermvale Farm owned by David Worwick, Shiri said he was concerned that disruptions at farm had seriously affected the full utilisation of the property.

Worwick is specialises in horticulture for the export market.

“We will have to urgently look into the issue with the resident minister (Musabayana) and lands officials and come up with a position.  I am concerned that the farm is not being fully utilised to its full capacity,” Shiri said during his tour of Dovermale Farm

Worwick’s 400 hectare farm was invaded mid-last year by Thabitha Kanengoni-Malinga, then minister of state in former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s office, and other settlers.

The invasion followed calls by former President Robert Mugabe to evict all the remaining white farmers in Mashonaland East and redistribute it to landless youths. Mugabe made the call at a Zanu PF youth rally held in Marondera last June.

Worwick told Shiri that the invasion of his farm by Kanengoni-Malinga and had seriously affected his operations and capacity to meet export targets in contracted horticultural products and Katombora grass seed.

“I am very grateful for the intervention made by the minister,” Worwick told Shiri.

Last year, the farmer filed an application at the High Court seeking an order to bar Kanengoni-Malinga’s invasion of the farm.

In 2002, Worwick’s farm measured 3 000ha but was parcelled out to black farmers at the height of the controversial land reform programme.  He was left with 400ha, which Kanengoni-Malinga and other settlers were trying to wrestle from him before Shiri’s intervention.

The High Court is yet to pass a judgment on Worwick’s application.

Meanwhile, Worwick’s brother, Stephen Worwick, last year also filed a similar application at the High Court after another former Cabinet minister, Edgar Mbwembwe, invaded his Chipanga Farm also in Marondera.

According to Stephen, Mbwembwe, a former tourism minister, hired dozens of Zanu PF youths and threatened to shoot Stephen if he did not leave the farm within 48 hours.

In a High Court application, Stephen said the offer letter that Mbwembwe had to take over Chipanga Farm was “unlawful and wrongful”.

A ruling on Stephen’s High Court application is also yet to be made.

This come after late last year, government reversed the eviction of another white farmer in Manicaland.

With a military escort, Robert Smart returned to his Lesbury farm almost six months after he was ordered to leave by riot police armed with teargas and AK-47 assault rifles. He was greeted by cheers and songs from dozens of workers and community members.