Almost 5 million hectares of prime agricultural land which include wildlife conservancies grabbed from productive white commercial farmers in Zimbabwe are in the hands of President Robert Mugabe and his close cronies.
Investigations reveal that the ownership is spread among top ZANU-PF members, cabinet ministers, senior army, security and government officials and judges. The land was seized from about 4 100 commercial farmers since the famous brutal land invasion began in early 2000.
Research reveal that the 86-year-old Mugabe and his young second wife, Grace, have 14 farms covering 16 000 hectares. The farms cover over 16,000 hectares – enough to build 160,000 medium density houses – and include a five-in-one 4,046-hectare property known as Gushungo Estate in Darwendale near Mugabe’s rural Zvimba home.
Commented John Worsley-Worswick from the Justice For Agriculture (JAG)
farmers pressure group: “This is a political programme camouflaged as
land reform because it is clear that land has been transferred to high
profile people and not the landless,”
Prime Minister’s Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has since called for an urgent land audit saying that “the so-called invader-sponsored land leases bear testimony to Zanu (PF) and Mugabe’s insincerity about land reform.
“They knew, right from the beginning, that none of the senior officials who now control a whooping five million hectares of choice plots of this finite resource were ever interested in commercial agriculture – beyond fulfilling a sucking, vacuum cleaner mindset of licking out and pillaging anything that moves.”
The global political agreement (GPA), signed by both parties, calls for a land audit, a move that has been resisted clearly because of the corruption that has been labelled ‘reform’. And MDC says the audit would be aimed at the “restoration of full productivity on all agricultural land that would have been redistributed irrespective of race, gender, religion, ethnicity or political affiliation.”
Investigations reveal that though at least 150,000 ordinary people may
have had access to farms, the majority own between 10 and 50 hectares
each after some of the huge farms were subdivided into small plots. These ordinary people were however only able to access land on the strengths of their ZANU PF party membership cards.
Deputy President, Joyce Mujuru and her husband, former army general
Solomon Mujuru and close relatives own 25 farms with a combined hectarage of more than 105 000.
Of the nearly 200 officers from the rank of Major to the Lieutenant General in the Zimbabwe National Army, 90 percent have farms in the most fertile parts of the country.
In total there are 400 officers in the security services alone who are known to have farms above 250 hectares, often seized at gun point from the previous white owners while several lower ranking officers and war veterans also have smaller holdings.
Further investigations disclose that all of ZANU-PF’s 56 politburo members, 98 Members of Parliament and 35 elected and unelected Senators were allocated former white farms, all 10 provincial governors have seized farms, with four being multiple owners, while 65 percent of the country’s more than 200 mostly partisan traditional chiefs have also benefited from the land reforms.
Sixteen Supreme Court and High Court Judges, including Chief Justice
Chidyausiku, who owns the 1 000 hectare Estes Park farm in
Mazowe/Concession district, also own large farms ranging between 540
to 1380 hectares.
Before 2000, the 4,500 members of the largely white Commercial Farmers’ Union and another 1,500 unaffiliated white farmers owned close to 15 million hectares of Zimbabwe’s most arable land and wildlife conservancies.