Zanu-PF youths push for seizure of Grace's 15 farms

 Zanu-PF youths push for seizure of Grace's 15 farms
Published: 18 June 2019 (179 Views)
FORMER president Robert Mugabe's wife, Grace, who has reportedly taken over at least 16 of Zimbabwe's most valuable white-owned farms since 2002, must lose at least 15 of those properties, the ruling Zanu-PF youth league has said.

This comes after President Emmerson Mnangagwa told a radio station last Friday that the former first lady, using Grace's monicker; "I know of one lady ‘Stop It' who has about 16 (farms) yet the law says one family one farm."

Zanu-PF youth league deputy secretary Lewis Matutu yesterday urged the government to confiscate Grace's 15 farms within the next two weeks.

Speaking on a listener-based programme on State-owned radio station called Catching up with ED Mnangagwa cited Grace as an example of people who owned multiple farms.

Following this revelation, the Zanu-PF youth leader took to micro blogging site Twitter, demanding the confiscation of the farms.

"Now that it has been revealed that Grace (Mugabe) owns 16 farms, we are demanding that she chooses one and the other 15 be sub-divided into 10-hectare plots for youths within two weeks @nickmangwana @governmentofzimbabwe @edmnangagwa @zimyouthcouncil," Matutu said. The former first lady had built a secret personal farming empire comprising at least 16 white-owned farms from which the owners were forced out during evictions of about 4 000 commercial farmers.

Grace's properties total about 12 000 acres, but her most important is Gushungo Dairy Estate, formerly known as Foyle Farm. It is in Mazowe, about 39km north of the capital Harare.

Mnangagwa's disclosure spawned debate on Twitter, with some of his followers raising concern that even those still in power were multiple farm owners, and that the process must go beyond Grace alone.

"Everyone with multiple farms must surrender some and remain with one. Young people need land and we are not going to allow anybody to block our way," Matutu said in response.

The land debate comes after Mnangagwa claimed the land audit was still going on, adding results will be made public.  

"The (land audit) is still on-going and results will be made public. The briefing I have received is that only two provinces are left to complete the process. The main issue we have identified is the issue of multiple farm ownership, especially among people in higher offices. For example, I know of one lady who has 16 farms — Dr Stop It," Mnangagwa said

Grace was christened "Dr Stop It" at the height of Zanu-PF factionalism where she used rallies to admonish her husband's then deputies Joice Mujuru and Mnangagwa.

Mugabe resigned from power in November 2017 after an army intervention that elevated Mnangagwa to the presidency.

The country's two land audits produced between 2003 and 2005 by Flora Bhuka and the late Charles Utete, who were both senior government officials, revealed underhand deals and multiple farm ownership mostly by Cabinet ministers, top civil servants and other top Zanu-PF officials.

There are claims that several people are still holding under-utilised land for speculative purposes, with further allegations that some politicians are even securing farms for their school-going children.

The government implemented the land reform programme in 2000 to right colonial wrongs.  The exercise saw about 300 000 landless blacks being given land that previously belonged to about 4 000 white commercial farmers.

However, during the process, there were concerns only a few politically-correct blacks benefitted from the programme, with those in power allocating themselves choice farms.

Government has previously warned those that have more than one farm must surrender excess land.

Government has also exhorted those that have failed to be productive to come out in the open so the farms can be distributed to those that are willing to work on them.

- dailynews

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