ACTING-President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday warned top government ministers and other land reform beneficiaries to either productively use the land allocated to them or lose it, following revelations that several bigwigs are sitting on vast tracts of productive land.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Speaking at the low-key burial of national hero Peter Chanetsa at the heroes’ acre in Harare, Mnangagwa — who is driving attempts to restore food security in Zimbabwe under command agriculture — warned that government would engage in a scientific land audit.
“Government will come up with a mechanism for a scientific land audit based on each individual farmer’s performance,” he said.
“Our ultimate goal is to attain food self-sufficiency as we strive towards strengthening our home-grown economy.”
He said everyone on a farm had to justify their continued stay on the land through production and accounting for inputs which they accessed through the command agriculture programne.
“We need you to account for the inputs you drew from the programme,” the VP said.
“Above all, the nation expects you to justify your continued occupancy of the piece of land apportioned to you ahead of all other Zimbabweans.”
Mnangagwa’s statements followed revelations by this paper that Zanu PF bigwigs who include senate president Edna Madzongwe and former ambassador to the United Nations James Manzou, among others, have run down multimillion dollar citrus estates which they wrestled from successful white farmers that had been successfully running them.
Norton legislator, Temba Mliswa, who also attended the burial, said the warning by Mnangagwa could have come a little too late.
“There are a lot of Zanu PF bigwigs who warehoused farms under the names of their children and girlfriends and these farms are not productive and if an audit is done, these people can be sniffed out,” he said.
Zanu PF secretary for production Josiah Hungwe, backed Mnangagwa, saying Zimbabwe could not afford to continue importing food when some people were sitting on vast tracks of land.
“We have to produce food. We have the land. we have people with PhDs so educated but we can’t just provide sufficient food for our people, therefore ramping up production becomes very important and those sitting on the farms should lose them,” he said.
Mnangagwa presided over the burial of Chanetsa which was marred by low attendance as factional politics in Zanu PF once again showed its ugly head.
Most chairs were empty, while flea markets which are normally forced to shut down in Mbare and in the city centre as people are force- marched to the national shrine when President Robert Mugabe presides over burials, were left open.
Former war veterans minister, Christopher Mutsvangwa who was expelled from the party, was in the VVIP tent sitting on a chair reserved for ministers and Zanu PF politburo members.
He was happily received by top Zanu PF politburo members who hugged and embraced him as he left the venue together with Mliswa.
On his part, Mnangagwa stuck to his speech, praising Chanetsa who served as the first chief of protocol in independent Zimbabwe as a dedicated party cadre who under his tenure as Mashonaland West governor was at the heart of the land reform programme.
“His governorship, too, placed him in the firing line of most former white farmers, who had made a fortune out of tobacco and were prepared to defend their privileges, most notably in the Banket area,” he said.