By Sij Ncube
Harare, August 22, 2016 – ZANU PF opportunists, driven by greed and self-entitlement, conspired to annihilate Kondozi Estate in order to settle one of their inner cabal, Chris Mushowe, in the process unwittingly blighting President Robert Mugabe’s land reforms.
In a no-holds barred book entitled My Kondozi Story: The People’s Hope Pillage, Edwin Moyo, a business partner in the agricultural enterprise together with the De Klerk family, makes shocking revelations over how racism, regionalism and tribalism were used by Manicaland politicians to crudely eject its rightful owners from the prime property to settle Mushowe.
Moyo claims some Zanu PF top officials have personally expressed regret over the fate which befell the then striving enterprise which is now a pale shadow of its former self, saying “We should not have taken Kondozi”.
He quotes the wife of a top Agricultural Rural Development Authority (ARDA) official who led the invasion apologising for his role in the take-over the farm.
The military was commandeered to take-over the farm during the 2004 Easter holidays while Jonathan Moyo, the then minister of information and publicity, used the state media to portray the entrepreneur as an Uncle Tom or a front for white farmers and a sponsor of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, charges he vehemently dispute in the 173-page book.
In the book, Moyo goes to lengths in explaining how equipment at the then state-of-the-art farming estate was pillaged by Mushowe and allies, charging that Mushowe, the eventual beneficiary of the property, appeared fixated by the farm house at the top of a hill although the former spy chief later left the property to go to waste due to lack of expertise in farming.
Kondozi Estate, then a highly successful, striving and profitable agriculture business enterprise which at its peak in 2003 generated US$15 million, employed an estimated 10 000 families and other out-growers.
Moyo, who has recovered from the financial ruin which left him saddled with a personal debt of US$3 million from a local financial institution, specifically names Zanu PF big-wigs Joseph Made, Patrick Chinamasa, Mike Nyambuya, Jonathan Moyo and former party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa as being complicit in the rape on behalf of Mushowe, then the deputy minister of transport.
He also has no kind words for the military which swooped on the property during the 2004 Easter, a development he says eventually led to the presentation of the property to Mushowe on a silver platter, leaving Odzi town and surrounding areas ghost dwelling places due to job losses that followed.
One of the employment creators in Zimbabwe at the time, Kondozi employed 15 000 people from 1997 to 2004 before Mushowe moved in.
Moyo, a former journalist who established impressive local, regional business and political connections before going into a partnership with the De Klerks to set up Kondozi, describes Mushowe and his cabal as evil men who used their political positions to deprive people direct jobs as the politician sought to harvest where he did not sow.
He blasts Jonathan Moyo, the state propagandist at that time who was adamant in May 2014 that “there was no going back on Kondozi.”
“Perhaps the fate of Kondozi had to do more than the colour of my (white) partners. (It) had aroused unhealthy interest in some government ministers who wanted a piece of the action. Kondozi was a golden egg they were not going to leave it alone,” says Moyo.
“We would taste the bitterness of such greed, assisted by a heavy dose of political impunity.”
He chronicles how he was sent from one pole to another by ministers, including Mutasa, as he sought the ejection from Kondozi of soldiers that has allegedly been brought from Bulawayo to overrun the property.
When the property was sealed off by armed soldiers 2004, Chief Marange advised him not to venture into the farm but instead stay at a hotel in Vumba as the place had been besieged by heavily armed soldiers.
As he stayed put in the safety of the hotel with his family, “our sweat and commitment was senselessly washed away by a rage of greed and self-entitlement. All the hard work we had put into the farm would in one stroke of unbridled greed be reduced to a heap of ashes.”
“They (soldiers) went to the (farm) house demanding to see us, saying they want to drink our blood. But I knew going back (to the farm) would be inviting a terrible end to my life.”
Moyo discloses how the late vice president Joseph Msika tried to have the soldiers ejected but to no avail, adding that Mutasa pretended not to know what was going on.
Msika later confided in him that Mutasa and his Manicaland cabal, surprisingly including Jonathan Moyo, were behind the seizure of Kondozi so as to benefit Mushowe.
“Msika later confided in me that he had never seen such evil men such as Mutasa, Mushowe, and their allies including (Jonathan) Moyo.”
While Mushowe cherry-picked the farm house, Made placed the estate under the Agricultural Rural Development Authority (ARDA) but to this day it has failed to revive the once striving farming into a successful enterprise post land seizures.
Moyo adds:”ARDA clearly failed at Kondozi. The only thing they succeeded in doing was to change the name from Kondozi to ARDA Kondozi. They tried several partnerships that did not work. The real motive was to use state funds to assist Mushowe to eventually take over the business.”
He has advice for Mushowe and other aspiring farmers: “If you are a genuine farmer, you do not choose land because of a house. If your intention is to be a successful farmer, your main concern would not be to take possession of someone’s home – you would settle for land and prove that you can farm.”