Zimbabweans lose jobs and college in land grabs
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