By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
16 July 2014
A Goromonzi farmer was on Tuesday assaulted by a group of ex-farm workers who are resisting eviction from his Bromley Farm.
Several other people were injured, with one person reported missing following the bloody disturbances at the Mashonaland East farm on Saturday and Tuesday.
A report in the NewsDay newspaper said ex-workers, armed with a range of primitive weapons such as stones, axes, shovels and bricks, ran riot Tuesday in a bid to prevent farm owner Samson Chauruka from occupying the property.
Chauruka had twice gone to the farm under police escort but the officers were no match for the scores of marauding ex-farm hands who chased them away, according to the paper.
In another report the newspaper indicated that about 15 of the farm invaders were arrested over the skirmishes.
The squatters claimed that ZANU PF MP and deputy transport Minister Petronella Kagonye has earmarked the farm for development into residential stands which will be allocated to them.
Kagonye is reportedly against Chauruka occupying the farm and behind the workers’ violent conduct towards the farm owner. This is despite the fact that Chauruka was confirmed the rightful owner of the farm by the lands ministry.
The controversial deputy minister is involved in another land dispute in which she is trying to reclaim from beneficiaries the 7,000 housing stands she parceled out as a vote-buying measure ahead of the July 2013 elections.
Kagonye has occupied various senior admin positions in the district and is aware of lucrative projects in the land sector which she has been targeting for take-over.
Chauruka blames the protracted farm wrangle on greedy ZANU PF officials whom he says are eyeing the farm and processing plant for themselves.
The dispute goes back to 2011 when Chauruka is said to have purchased the 40-hectare farm from ex-owner Lesley Lombard.
According to the workers, Lombard owed them huge sums in unpaid wages and the arrangement was that they could stay on, and also use the barns on the tobacco processing farm until the issue of their wages and exit packages had been resolved.
When Chauruka bought the farm he evicted the workers but had to allow them back on the property at the intervention of then Lands Minister Herbert Murerwa.
At one point the government gazetted Bromley Farm and allocated it to Mashonaland East Tobacco Grading Contractors, another indigenous firm, before restoring ownership to Chauruka.
Political analyst and MDC official Kurauone Chihwayi said the Bromley Farm dispute exemplifies the chaos and lawlessness on which ZANU PF premised the land reform exercise.
Chihwayi said ZANU PF supporters will not stop invading farms and illegally occupying private property because senior party officials such as Kagonye benefit from the chaos they create on the farms.
“Unfortunately this unending chaos has a negative impact on investment because no investor wants to put their money in an unstable environment.
“Since 1999 there has been no rule of law, transparency, or order to inform the land reform exercise. We continue to see and experience corruption, and partisan allocation of the resource by ZANU PF,” Chihwayi said.
Chihwayi said in their greed, ZANU PF bigwigs were now turning on fellow blacks and dispossessing them, proof that the land issue was never really about empowering the majority.