The late national hero and former Midlands governor, Cephas Msipa lived a modest life and believed in fairness such that he paid compensation to the white farmer, whose land he occupied during the land reform programme, Midlands provincial affairs minister, Jason Machaya has revealed.
Msipa took over Cheshire, a commercial dairy farm, 10km on the outskirts of Gweru along Matobo Road from Graham Ingle in 2005.
The farmer also produced flowers and passion fruit for export at the 2 100-hectare farm.
Machaya said at first Msipa owned a small farm in Zvishavane and it was the Zanu PF leadership in the province, which persuaded him to acquire a better farm (Cheshire).
“We told him (Msipa) that the farm along Matobo Road was near Gweru and after work, he could easily access it,” he said yesterday at Msipa’s memorial service at Cecil John Rhodes Primary School grounds in Gweru.
“He (Msipa), at first refused, saying he was comfortable with his small piece of land in Zvishavane and did not want to appear greedy in the eyes of the public. We persuaded him and when he agreed reluctantly, he later called me and said he wanted to compensate the farm owner.”
Machaya said Msipa entered into an agreement with the ex-farm owner and applied for a loan from a bank, which he used to compensate him.
He said when the number of students on the CG Msipa Scholarship Trust increased, the late hero applied to the Local Government ministry for authority to sub-divide part of the farm into residential stands to raise funds for the scholarship.
“He told me that since he could not turn away disadvantaged students, he would not want to burden traditional sponsors like Unki and Mimosa mines and other individuals and had decided to sub-divide the farm into residential stands for sell to raise funds for the scholarship,” he said.
“I asked him if he was not giving away his farm, but he said it did not matter, as it was for a good cause and every cent of that project was channelled towards the scholarship fund.”
In December 2013, during a visit by Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development deputy minister Paddy Zhanda, Msipa defended his position to keep the few white dairy farmers in the province.
“It is in the national interest that I said these dairy farmers should remain on their farms. We don’t have to import milk when we have people who are productive. It does not matter whether one is white or black; what we want is development,” Msipa said then.