By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
27 June 2014
President Robert Mugabe has been called upon to stop the seizure of the late vice President Joshua Nkomo’s Nuanetsi Ranch, part of which is earmarked for the resettlement of the Tokwe-Mukosi flood victims.
Custodian of the property Charles Madonko’s plea comes after reports that minister of state for Masvingo, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, together with senior directors at Triangle (Pvt) Limited have seized the ranch.
The Daily News said the Nuanetsi trust has since written to the Tongaat Hulett-owned Triangle (Pvt) Limited ‘seeking for clarification on their role in the saga’. Bhasikiti reportedly made his submission on the issue to vice president Joice Mujuru and gave the names of the directors said to be involved in the swoop on Nuanetsi.
The seizure of the ranch throws into jeopardy the welfare of an estimated 18,000 people who were relocated to Chingwizi Camp in the Mwenezi District following floods in the Tokwe-Mukosi dam basin. Madonko dubbed the land grab on Nuanetsi as unofficial saying, ‘the whole matter boils down to our tendency to just grab property even from our own people.’
The sprawling ranch is registered under the Development Trust of Zimbabwe (DTZ) and was founded by Nkomo in 1989. According to Madonko, it was Nkomo’s wish for Mugabe to protect the property that is currently leased to ZANU PF financier Billy Rautenbach.
Economist Eddie Cross said Bhasikiti’s move was consistent with the trend around the country in which ‘various individuals and groups are behaving like rogue elements of ZANU PF.’
He said: ‘ZANU PF is grappling with the problem of agricultural productivity and investment and indeed our reputation abroad as a destination for investment. Clearly the responsible elements within the party want those things to stop but now we have Basikithi trying to grab one of the biggest ranches in the world.’
Cross added: ‘The particular concern to everybody is the activities of Bhasikithi in the area. We need investment but to allow this kind of thing to happen really just puts the whole of our recovery process in jeopardy.’ The MDC legislator said: ‘It seems as if central authority in Zimbabwe has collapsed and that Mugabe is no longer in charge and these rogue elements are doing what they like; I think it’s a tragedy at this moment in time.’
Last month Human Rights Watch said by resettling the flood victims in Nuanetsi ZANU PF intended to have the villagers work as cheap labour at a sugar cane farm and ethanol project owned by Rautenbach.
While some villagers have since been resettled many are staying put at the temporary camp, vowing that they will not move before they are compensated. With the cash-strapped government clearly unable to meet their demands anger has been building up and reports this week said a police post at Chingwizi was set on fire in what observers said was a manifestation of the villagers’ frustration.