Zim­bab­weans lose jobs and col­lege in land grabs

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - PETA THORNYCROFT

LAND in­va­sions in Zim­babwe have es­ca­lated and the lat­est farms taken are all land­mark prop­er­ties.

One is a farm hous­ing an agri­cul­tural col­lege which trains and ed­u­cates many young Zim­bab­weans in the sci­ence and prac­ti­cal­i­ties of agri­cul­ture. Mil­lions of rands’ worth of equip­ment which serves the col­lege has also been taken by some in­vaders who are mostly con­nected with the army, air force and the rul­ing Zanu-PF party. All the stu­dents at the col­lege are black.

Black­fordby Agri­cul­tural Col­lege is part of a farm about 80km north- west of Harare and is owned by an in­vest­ment bank, Te­trad, which is it­self un­der ju­di­cial man­age­ment. Ac­cord­ing to farm­ing sources in Harare, the land around the col­lege, as well as some leased to a white farmer to raise in­come to fund the col­lege, has been di­vided into about a dozen plots and handed to well-con­nected mem­bers of the armed forces and Zanu-PF lead­ers. Most of that land had been used by stu­dents as part of their prac­ti­cal ed­u­ca­tion.

“We be­lieved this land would never be taken be­cause it is such a vi­tal cog in the wheel to pro­duce new farm­ers,” said a farmer when news of the takeover be­gan to seep into Harare last month.

Ac­cord­ing to the Zim­babwe In­de­pen­dent, which vis­ited the farm this week, work­ers con­firmed some of the land had been taken over.

“What is sad is that this white man used to em­ploy more than 300 work­ers and there­fore the fact that he is leav­ing means all those peo­ple have also lost their jobs.”

One of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the in­va­sion, Ma­zowe West MP Kazembe Kazembe con­firmed he has re­ceived a plot of land.

In another land dis­pute, closer to Harare, the fu­ture of a key abat­toir, which pro­cesses cat­tle for a cold meat fac­tory in Harare, is be­ing de­bated in court. The share­hold­ers of the abat­toir and the small piece of land around it have asked not to be named but say the com­pany con­forms to “indi­geni­sa­tion” reg­u­la­tions, which means it is 51% owned by black Zim­bab­weans. A Zanu-PF sup­porter has told the firm he has been awarded the land on which the abat­toir stands.

Dou­glas Mombeshora, lands and re­set­tle­ment min­is­ter, de­clined to com­ment on the lat­est farm seizures. – In­de­pen­dent For­eign Ser­vice

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