HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa is reportedly targeting farms belonging to former Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi, former Manicaland provincial minister Mandi Chimene and other top allies of the late president Robert Mugabe as he goes for broke in his move to swat the G40 apparatchiks, The Standard has learnt.
Government recently dispossessed Robert Zhuwao, Mugabe’s nephew, of his Zvimba farm and also seized former Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo’s farm in Mazowe measuring 622,9 hectares.
On Wednesday, according to a local weekly publication, government again repossessed Concorpia Farm in Mazowe from G40 kingpin, former Local Government minister and Zanu PF national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere in what it described as a downsizing and re-planning exercise, according to a letter by Lands minister Perrance Shiri.
But The Standard is informed government is also targeting Mzembi and Chimene’s farms for seizure. The seizure letters have already been drafted and await delivery, according to sources.
Also on the radar is Moyo’s former deputy, Godfrey Gandawa, whose 160-hectare Dundazi Farm is being targeted.
“Mzembi is going to lose his Banquest Extension Farm in Masvingo,” a well-placed source revealed.
“Also to be seized will be Chimene and Gandawa’s farms. Kudzai Chipanga [former Zanu PF youth league leader]’s farm will be turned into yet to be established Manicaland State University.”
Shiri was not reachable for comment while his deputy, Douglas Karoro, said he was unwell and receiving medical attention. Questions sent to Shiri had not been responded to by the time of going to print.
But Information deputy minister Energy Mutodi defended the seizures saying government was simply repossessing land that was being underutilised when the owners went into exile. He said the seizures were not retributive at all.
“Government is taking back all underutilised and in some cases, abandoned agricultural land as we move forward to ensure food security in the country,” Mutodi said.
“The names you have mentioned are former ministers who are in self-imposed exile and have neglected their farms.
“We are facing critical shortages of maize, soya beans, oranges and other raw materials because a number of farms that used to be productive are now lying idle.”
He added: “It is a clear government policy that such underutilised farms are repossessed by the government and subdivided to create smaller highly productive farm units.”
Mutodi’s claim was despite the fact that there is high production at some of the farms, especially Kasukuwere’s Concorpia Farm. Furthermore, Shiri’s letter was silent on underutilisation, but cited “downsizing and re-planning” as the motives for the cancellation of the land offer.
The Mugabe-backed G40 faction enjoyed the upper hand against Mnangagwa’s Team Lacoste faction in the Zanu PF succession battles.
The faction allegedly influenced Mnangagwa’s dismissal as vice-president in November 2017 before he came back to lead on the back of a military coup.
Since Mnangagwa took over, he has led an onslaught on the G40 members who include former Finance minister Ignatius Chombo and Chipanga.
The land seizures become his latest show of revenge on his political foes whom he constantly blames for his poor show in the 2018 presidential elections as well as poor attendance at his rallies and national events.
Mugabe’s widow Grace’s farms haves not been spared, with her farms invaded by suspected Zanu PF youths panning for gold while a land commission into the sale of state land has also recommended a probe on her land deals as well as several G40 members who include Chombo and former Harare provincial commissar Shadreck Mashayamombe.
Mzembi now leads an opposition party, Zimbabwe People’s Party, and is deputised by Gandawa in the fight to dislodge Mnangagwa. Kasukuwere leads the Tyson Wabantu Movement also in opposition to Mnangagwa.
Moyo has been launching diatribes on Mnangagwa using his Twitter handle and recently published a book, Excelgate, in which he chronicles how Mugabe former deputy allegedly stole the 2018 general elections.
Most of the farms were obtained through the Mugabe-championed controversial land reform programme except Moyo’s farm that he claims he bought in 2002 for Z$6 million.
Mzembi took over the remaining 367 hectares of Banquest Extension Farm after part of it was already resettled by indigenous black farmers from chicken breeder Helen Mitchell in 2015.
At that time, the Mitchells ran Masvingo Chicks Company which was the only chicken breeder that supplied the whole of the province, producing 100 000 day-old chicks and 50 000 eggs per week.
Political analyst Alexander Rusero said the land seizures of perceived political enemies were a sign of lack of thought leadership in Mnangagwa’s so-called new dispensation.
“It’s at best pathetic and at worst devoid of thought leadership from a Zanu PF leadership that wants to be seen as a New Dispensation,” Rusero said.
“For all intents and purposes, it confirms that the land reform was largely political than economic. Land in Zimbabwe shall remain an instrument of those in power to punish their enemies, perceived and real.”
Another political analyst, Ibbo Mandaza, said by repossessing the farms, Mnangagwa was setting a dangerous precedent that everyone who lost political power should lose properties.
“One day, they [Mnangagwa’s government] will also be out of power, and what will happen to their farms?” Mandaza said.
“On the other hand, politicians should also learn to set laws that benefit everyone, including themselves when they go out of power. The A2 offer letters have a clause which says the offer can be withdrawn in seven days.
“Kasukuwere, Moyo, Zhuwao and others knew it and they were part of it. There is no security of tenure in Zimbabwe. Yes, there is a question of vendetta on the evictions, but the offer letters themselves are a problem too.”