FORMER Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement minister Didymus Mutasa has been implicated in the ongoing farm disruptions.
This came to light in a damning Commercial Farmers Union report submitted to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last week highlighting farm disruptions that have reportedly seen farmers abandoning their homes and going into hiding.
The Report on Farm Disruptions Volume XVII dated March 27 and submitted to Tsvangirai’s office the same day, accused Mutasa of leading a Land Inspectorate Commission which was allegedly interfering with farming activities on white-owned commercial farms.
“This special report has been produced to highlight the gravity of the situation occurring in the commercial farming sector of Zimbabwe during March 2009 following the swearing in of the new Transitional Inclusive Government,” reads the report.
“What has become very evident from the reports coming in is that there is a very active group, which we understand is called the Land Inspectorate Commission, allegedly headed by the previous Minister of Lands (etc), Minister (Didymus) Mutasa, and assisted by two of his relatives, being the lawyer Gerald Mlotshwa and Temba Mliswa, who we believe holds the position of Secretary of Lands for Mashonaland West in the Zanu PF party.”
Reports of lawlessness last month, the report stated, continued with at least two black rhinos killed in the Save River Valley Conservancy.
Efforts to get comment from Mutasa or Mliswa were in vain as their mobile phone numbers were not reachable.
Tapson Dzvetero, a lawyer at Antonio & Associates, speaking on behalf of Mlotshwa, said he could not comment on the matter.
The Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, “a chief magistrate, senior police officials and Ministry of Lands officials”, according to the report, conducted workshops across the country where they instructed prosecutors, police and lands officials at district level to “fast-track” prosecutions of remaining farmers.
“It would appear that this is to make way for the immediate occupation by persons in favour of the Zanu PF party and many of these new beneficiaries are alleged to have been involved in the recent political violence…In the end it is the country which will again suffer by having to import the majority of its bulky strategic foods,” claimed the CFU.
“It is essential that a moratorium be called immediately on the prosecutions of white farmers and an immediate cessation of the violence in the productive farming sector.”
Several commercial farmers including 77 interveners at the Sadc Tribunal case challenging government evictions, have been targeted in the reported farm disruptions that ensued after the formation of the inclusive government. Farms in arable Mashonaland provinces, according to the CFU, have been listed in the “fast-track” exercise.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Tsvangirai promised to deal with the reported farm disruptions through the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee.
“This is a matter of concern to us,” Tsvangirai said. “Chaos is the last thing that should be in our minds. There is a process on land reform we have to follow…I have assigned the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee to address the issue.”
Tsvangirai’s remarks came barely a week after he condemned perpetrators of “acts of theft” using “fraudulent offer letters” to evict commercial farmers. He warned that those engaged in these activities would be brought to justice.
“Of particular importance is restoring the rule of law, without which we will not make progress on any front. I have tasked the Ministers of Home Affairs to ensure that all crimes are acted upon and the perpetrators arrested and charged. For too long a culture of entitlement and impunity has stained our society, but after the signing of the Global Political Agreement no crime will go unpunished.”
Responding to the Questions Without Notice session in parliament last week, Lands and Rural Resettlement minister Herbert Murerwa disputed reports of “farm invasions” but admitted “disturbances” at farms whose former white owners were served with eviction orders.
Opening the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung Stakeholders meeting last Friday in Harare, German ambassador Albrecht Conze bemoaned unnamed government officials for undermining the inclusive government through violation of property rights.
“Not everyone in the new government is committed to the respect for individual property rights. This may be an internal affair as long as legislation and practice only affect citizens of this country,” said Conze.
“But it becomes a bilateral issue for all those countries that have concluded investment protection agreements with Zimbabwe, and whose investments are being unlawfully molested and disrupted in their business affairs.”
BY BERNARD MPOFU