War erupts over Ton­gaat Hulett land in Masvingo

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business - From Ge­orge Maponga in CHIREDZI

LANDS and Ru­ral Re­set­tle­ment Min­istry of­fi­cials, will soon visit the Lowveld to as­sess the sit­u­a­tion at Ton­gaat Hulett where 4 000 hectares of cane plan­ta­tions were ac­quired by the Masvingo pro­vin­cial lead­er­ship to re­set­tle land­less peo­ple, spark­ing se­ri­ous di­vi­sions among Zanu- PF lead­ers in the prov­ince, as 2 000 jobs could be lost.

The Gov­ern­ment is­sued of­fer letters un­der the model A2 scheme to nearly 300 new farm­ers to ven­ture into com­mer­cial sugar cane pro­duc­tion at Hippo Val­ley and Tri­an­gle Es­tates owned by Ton­gaat Hulett.

The de­vel­op­ment sparked di­vi­sions within the Zanu- PF Masvingo pro­vin­cial lead­er­ship with those op­posed to the takeover of cane fields say­ing the move would see over 2 000 peo­ple em­ployed by the cane pro­ducer in Chiredzi job­less.

Those who sup­ported the takeover ar­gued that Ton­gaat was con­duct­ing op­er­a­tions on state land and the al­lo­ca­tion of cane plots to indige­nous farm­ers was part of the land re­form pro­gramme.

The takeover of Ton­gaat land caused di­vi­sions within Zanu-PF in Masvingo and was one of the top­ics high on the agenda when Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe held two in­ter­face meet­ings with mem­bers of the Masvingo pro­vin­cial lead­er­ship led by Masvingo Pro­vin­cial Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sen­a­tor Shu­vai Ma­hofa and 26 MPs in the prov­ince.

Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe re­port­edly told the lead­ers that Gov­ern­ment was against takeover of plan­ta­tions and urged the Masvingo pro­vin­cial lead­er­ship to look for fund­ing else­where and de­velop vir­gin land into cane plots for al­lo­ca­tion to land­less peo­ple.

Lands and Ru­ral Re­set­tle­ment Min­is­ter Dr Dou­glas Mombeshora, yes­ter­day said a de­ci­sion on the fate of ac­quired Ton­gaat land would be made af­ter a ground visit.

“We will only make a de­ci­sion af­ter mak­ing a visit on the ground. There is noth­ing more that I can say be­fore we go to the ground,’’ said Dr Mombeshora.

When our Harare Bu­reau vis­ited Chiredzi this week, there was un­cer­tainty over the fate of the ac­quired Ton­gaat land with the firm’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Mr Syd­ney Mt­sam­biwa, say­ing his com­pany would stand guided by the au­thor­i­ties. “There is noth­ing that I can say about that is­sue (takeover of 4 000ha Ton­gaat land) talk to the prin­ci­pals (Min­istry of Lands and Ru­ral Re­set­tle­ment), we stand guided by them,’’ said Mr Mt­sam­biwa.

How­ever, ten­sion is rising in Chiredzi with the Sugar Pro­duc­tion and Milling In­dus­try Work­ers Union of Zim­babwe (SPMWUZ) hav­ing al­ready given no­tice to em­bark on a protest this month to pres­sure Gov­ern­ment to re­verse the takeover of Ton­gaat land fear­ing for their jobs.

A no­tice by SPMWUZ sec­re­tary gen­eral, Mr Ado­nia Mutero on the planned protest, said work­ers in the Lowveld sugar cane in­dus­try would not continue to sit and watch while their in­dus­try was be­ing dec­i­mated.

Speak­ing to the me­dia at the end of a Zanu-PF pro­vin­cial co-or­di­nat­ing com­mit­tee meet­ing in Masvingo where the takeover of Ton­gaat land was one of the issues tabled for dis­cus­sion, Zanu-PF na­tional po­lit­i­cal com­mis­sar Cde Saviour Ka­sukuwere, said Dr Mombeshora was re­spon­si­ble for han­dling the is­sue.

He said Zanu-PF was against self-ag­gran­dis­e­ment and cor­rup­tion in the al­lo­ca­tion of land adding that Dr Mombeshora was best po­si­tioned to deal with the takeover of Ton­gaat land. “The line min­is­ter (Dr Mombeshora) is the one best placed to deal with the is­sue of Ton­gaat Hulett and he was there when we held meet­ings with Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe so I am sure he will deal with that is­sue,’’ said Cde Ka­sukuwere

Zanu-PF act­ing Masvingo pro­vin­cial chair­man Cde Amasa Nhen­jana, said Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe or­dered that the takeover of Ton­gaat land to be re­versed as the land was pro­tected un­der the Bi­lat­eral In­vest­ment Pro­mo­tion and Agree­ment be­tween Zim­babwe and South Africa. Ton­gaat is a South African com­pany. How­ever, those in sup­port of takeover of Ton­gaat land led by Sen Ma­hofa and politburo mem­ber Cde Josaya Hungwe, are ar­gu­ing that there was no BIPPA agree­ment cover­ing Ton­gaat land. “There is no go­ing back on those who got of­fer letters to start sugar cane farm­ing in Chiredzi but in fu­ture when we look for more land to re­set­tle our peo­ple we will look for land in other ar­eas af­ter this case is closed. There are still more of our peo­ple in need of land,” said Cde Hungwe.

The Masvingo pro­vin­cial lead­er­ship led by Sen Ma­hofa moved to ac­quire Ton­gaat cane plan­ta­tions af­ter the com­pany had dragged its feet in im­ple­ment­ing an agree­ment with Gov­ern­ment to de­velop 4 000ha vir­gin land into cane plots for 138 ben­e­fi­cia­ries is­sued with of­fer letters in De­cem­ber 2012.

Sen­a­tor Shu­vai Ma­hofa

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