Land scandal unfolds
author/source:Financial Gazette (Zimb)
posted on this site:Fri 12-Sep-2003
Article Type : News
Matabeleland North Provincial Administrator Livingstone Mashengele is tomorrow expected to interview more than 52 multiple farm owners in the province. Although he confirmed this, Mashengele said government ministers, Zanu PF politburo and central committee members were not in his area of jurisdiction
Njabulo Ncube, Bulawayo Bureau
Daggers are reportedly drawn in Matabeleland North where investigations into multiple farm ownership have been completed as the government moves to pacify a restive populace and assuage the general perception that the controversial land reform has been a disaster, benefiting mostly the ruling clique and their cronies. The province's multiple allocation list seen by this paper yesterday in Bulawayo make for some pretty dismal reading and provides an insight into how influential Zanu PF and government officials abused their positions to seize farms under the controversial land reform programme. The list was compiled by the Joint Operations Committee on Land in the province.
The list, which is a sad reflection on the level of corruption in the high echelons of the ruling Zanu PF and a microcosm of the extent of the rot nationally, indicates that Kembo Mohadi , the Minister of Home Affairs, has five farms, three in Matabeleland South, one in Matabeleland North and the last one in Masvingo. Professor Jonathan Moyo , the Minister of Information and Publicity in the Office of the President and Cabinet, has a farm known as Dete Valley in the province and another in Mashonaland Central. He is also said to have recently acquired another one at Sub-division 10 Mguza Block. Matabeleland North Zanu PF Central Committee member, Alexious Chiyasa , owns two farms known as Antoinette and Chiwara while John Nkomo , the ruling party's national chairman and Minister of Special Affairs, also has two farms, one at CSC Mguza Block and another in Filabusi in Matabeleland South. Clifford Sibanda , the Zanu PF Matabeleland North secretary also acquired two farms in Inyathi district and at Sikumi, Hwange while co-Vice President Joseph Msika has one farm at CSC Mguza Block and another in Chiweshe. Jacob Mudenda , the Zanu PF chairman for Matabeleland North and central committee member, has one farm at Sikumi and another one known as Nyathi Safari in the Matetsi hunting area. Thoko Mathuthu , a Zanu PF politburo member, also has two farms in Hwange.
Matabeleland North Provincial Administrator Livingstone Mashengele, who doubles up as the chairman of the Joint Operation Committee on land, is tomorrow expected to interview more than 52 multiple farm owners in the province. Although he confirmed this, Mashengele said government ministers, Zanu PF politburo and central committee members were not in his area of jurisdiction. "I have been told that ministers, politburo and central committee members with more than one farm in the province and other provinces have to report to the President when surrendering their extra farms. So I cannot comment on these people, it is not my area of jurisdiction. What I can tell you is that my committee is going to interview more than 50 people who appear on a list that we have prepared. It is at this meeting that they will decide which farm to keep or let go." This has sparked fears that the government could have a change of heart and decide not to press ahead with the exposure as the implications of the investigations sink in. It remains to be seen whether the government would expose all the multiple farm owners irrespective of their positions in government and the ruling party. "It is also after the meeting and interviews on Friday that I will be in a position to know who has taken what and handed over what," said the chairman of the Joint Operation Committee on Land which comprises the police, army and Lands and Resettlement as well as Local Government officials.
The land reform process has already run into a wall of negative sentiment internationally and locally. And by taking a scythe at the illegal multiple farm ownership which has added strain on the credibility of the controversial land reform, the government, balancing on a political knife edge against a backcloth of a collapsing economy, is trying to endear itself to a sceptical public that has long dismissed the land reform as nothing more than a gravy-train. After the initial euphoria that characterised the initial wave of violent farm seizures that sparked off a political storm, the mood, especially among the landless peasants who were meant to be the beneficiaries, has now lapsed into scepticism amid sleaze allegations that have provoked a sharp intake of breath even among the government's long standing sympathisers and supporters. The sleaze allegations where the ruling Zanu PF heavyweights have been accused of acquiring several farms per individual at the expense of the landless peasants and which also contravened the government's stated stipulation of one farm per person, for a long time provoked a muted response from the government. Government officials tried to explain this away by saying that the law of the unintended took hold when senior politicians in Zanu PF helped themselves to multiple farms. It is however widely believed that the authorities' deafening silence over allegations of corruption in the land reform process suggested a tacit approval of the rot. It was only in the second quarter of this year that President Robert Mugabe, probably realising that the pendulum had swung to far the other way, belatedly appointed former senior civil servant Charles Utete to head the Presidential Land Review Committee to investigate cases of multiple farm ownership. The national findings of this committee are expected any time soon.