Dispossessed Rusape farmer Luke Thembani, who lost his farm after it was auctioned off by a bank in 2000, said he should be compensated for the loss of his property worth over US$1,5million.
By OUR STAFF
Thembani who was among the first successful black farmers after independence, has made several but unsuccessful attempts to reclaim his farm and he once took his case to the now disbanded Sadc Tribunal.
The regional panel ordered that he be given back his farm but four months after the ruling, he was evicted from his farm along with his family. His possessions however were left behind and he has never been able to recover them.
“I want compensation from the bank that instructed the Deputy Sheriff to attach my personal belongings. I was left with nothing and have never been able to recover from that loss,” he said.
Thembani is known for his daring feats. He approached State House several times in an effort to reclaim his farm.
“I had the support of both Vice Presidents Simon Muzenda and Joseph Msika. The late Muzenda phoned the bank to stop the sale of my farm and Msika sent me to the Attorney General’s for advice,” he said.
“I have made several attempts, some of them quite humiliating, to get my farm back but in vain. I remember causing quite a scene at Msika’s office. I cried out in a loud voice and he came out to see what it was all about,” he said.
The little drama worked, for Msika then granted him an audience.
The 77-year-old farmer whose health is failing said he is angry that some quarters of the society were blaming him for buying his “own” land from the white men, and not supporting the land reform programme.
“Land invasions only started in 2000 and I had already bought my farm. It is not true that I do not support the land reform,” he said.
Thembani set up his farm in 1983 after buying it from a white farmer and over the years he built a school for the locals with an enrolment of over 300 pupils.
“I wrote a letter in 1989 to the President to come and see the extent of the achievement at my school, but I was told that he was too busy,” he said.
“Many senior black politicians also bought land and large houses but surprisingly I’m now the fall guy and yet I tried to uplift the lives of my fellow black men.”
The old man is saddened by the turn of events, especially now that he can’t even send his own children to school.
“My daughter got a place at Africa University and is supposed to start in August but I do not have a cent for school fees,” he said.
Thembani has served in various agricultural organisations and committees.
“I was once the chairman of the Manicaland chapter of the Indigenous Commercial Farmers’ Union for four years and I did a lot in upgrading the newly resettled farmers,” he said.