|White farmer vows to challenge Muzorewa farm grab
By Lance Guma
24 January 2008
Former Zimbabwe-Rhodesia Prime Minister Bishop Abel Muzorewa is at the centre of a legal wrangle after taking over a farm belonging to a white farmer in Mutare. Muzorewa moved onto Cavalla Farm 4 months ago, despite the fact that Lodewyk Van Rensburg bought the farm in 1989, nine years after independence. The Bishop who led the country in 1979 under a short-lived coalition government with Ian Smith is said to have produced an offer letter from State Security and Land Resettlement Minister Didymus Mutasa. This is despite Vice President Joseph Msika ordering the cancellation of all offer letters issued after January 2007.
Reports say at least 75 farm workers at Cavalla Farm have already lost their jobs to make way for the bishop and his people. The farm owner Van Rensburg, who is said to be a devout Christian, voluntarily gave up 700 hectares of the 1200-hectare farm for redistribution some six years ago. He told the UK Daily Mail that ‘ultimately the Lord will judge what has happened. But it does make a mockery of his position as a man of the cloth.’ Muzorewa meanwhile remained defiant saying he just wanted to have land which was taken from his forefathers without compensation. He called his action ‘a correction of injustice.’ The matter is set to go to court in February. Van Rensburg’s lawyers have already written to the police seeking Muzorewa’s eviction but so far nothing has happened.
The offer letter to Muzorewa is peculiar in that he was once the sworn enemy of Zanu PF during the liberation struggle. Zanu PF slogans at the time referred to him as a ‘puppet’ for colluding with the white regime of Ian Smith. That same ‘puppet’ is now grabbing white owned land with the assistance of Mugabe’s government. Journalist, actor and writer Norman Madawo has described Muzorewa’s actions as ‘satanic’. Madawo who recently launched his book ‘White Farmer-Black Warrior: A friendship out of tune’ said it was wrong for Muzorewa to hide behind the excuse of correcting a historical injustice. ‘You cannot solve one injustice by creating another. All this means is that the next government will have to reverse whatever is being done now,’ he said.
Madawo said the media hardly highlight the plight of farm workers who are the most affected by the upheavals. This he says drove him to write his book and explore the motivations for the land reform exercise, the relationships between white farmers and their workers among other things