By Criswell Chisango and Professor Matodzi
Hurungwe, October 7, 2013 – Zanu PF officials and a senior army member are divided over the eviction of some few remaining white commercial farmers within Hurungwe district in the rich Mashonaland West farming province.
Zanu PF party sources told Radio VOP this week that some new black farmers occupying Chishanje farm are pushing to have Garry Hobbs evicted from his plot even though he voluntarily surrendered part of his farm to the government in early 2000 when President Robert Mugabe’s administration embarked on the violent and chaotic land grab exercise.
The farm, which is situated about 50 kilometers north of Karoi town is owned by the late Samuel Chenjerai Marufu, President Mugabe’s father in law, who passed on early this year and was Hobbs’ neighbor.
Zanu PF party insiders claim an army official only identified as Colonel Gwanzura, who owns a portion of the farm measuring 31.37 hectares and a provincial Women’s League member identified as Mai Kwaramba who occupies plot number 1 measuring 83.37 hectares are pushing to have Hobbs’ plot reduced to their advantage.
Hobbs owns plot number 7 which measures 237.06 hectares although he offered 376.06 hectares to government for allocation to A1 farmers at the height of the land seizures.
Radio VOP’s is in possession of a document dated 26 March 2013 from the provincial Chief lands officer identified as Mr Vambe addressed to Hurungwe district officers titled “Boundary disputes between remaining white farmers and other plot holders.” According to the document, the ownership dispute must be solved amicably.
“Please take note that the initial offer letter does not have correct hectares’’ says Vambe in the document.
However, some sources claim Gwanzura and Kwaramba are pushing to evict Hobbs, a move that is being resisted by some Zanu PF members.
Hurungwe North Member of Parliament Reuben Marumahoko whose constituency under which the farm falls admitted that there is tension over the eviction of some few remaining white farmers in Hurungwe district including Hobbs.
“The land dispute at Chishanje farm has been brought to my attention. I am against the move to evict Hobbs as a serious farmer who offered much land to government to resettle A1 farmers. We must not kick out all white farmers. Some districts have many of them and they are boosting their production. So why should Hurungwe lag behind?” questioned Marumahoko in an interview with Radio VOP.
He added that he is fighting to have Hobbs obtain an offer letter to regularize ownership of his remaining plot.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from Hobbs were fruitless as his mobile phone went unanswered for on several occasions while Gwanzura and Kwaramba could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, eight families have been left homeless after a “new farmer” evicted them from their lodgings following a protest they staged for non-payment of their wages.
According to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights whose lawyer Kennedy Masiye is representing the workers, Felix Pambukani, who took over Wakefield Farm in Chegutu, Mashonaland West province during the government endorsed chaotic and haphazard land grab exercise teamed up with his family members, some plot holders in the surrounding farming area and other sympathetic farm workers to conduct the unlawful eviction during a period preceding the harsh summer season without a valid court order in violation of Section 74 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which provides for freedom from arbitrary eviction.
During the eviction, some of the families’ property was destroyed as Pambukani and his militant allies removed some walls and window panes from their residences thereby exposing their possessions to the elements and vagaries of nature and harsh weather in clear violation of the law.
So violent was the eviction that four farm workers were left hospitalised after sustaining injuries from the assault meted out on them by Pambukani and his associates, who used truncheons in battering the employees.
The farm workers and their families are currently camped in the open along the Harare-Chegutu highway with their young children and possessions.
Zimbabwe is currently importing maize from neighboring Zambia following successive years of poor harvests that critics blame on the Zanu PF initiated land grab exercise which has reduced Zimbabwe from its status of being Africa’s bread basket to a basket case.
But Mugabe defends his chaotic and often violent land reforms as having been necessary to ensure blacks who were previously denied arable land by previous white commercial farmers argues that repeated drought is responsible for the country’s long-running food crisis.