Armed police stealing farm equipment in Mwenezi and Masvingo

By Tererai Karimakwenda
14 November 2005

A Masvingo provincial police official, travelling with armed soldiers, is alleged to be taking equipment from commercial farms in the rural Mwenezi area illegally and selling it at an auction in Masvingo.

A reconstituted Masvingo Equipment Committee headed by Assistant Commissioner Mrs Ndanga, is reported to have descended on several farms in Mwenezi last week. They seized tractors, trailers, water bowsers, road graders, irrigation pipes and various implements. Chiredzi farmer Gerry Whitehead reports that some farmers were not shown any letters authorising the acquisitions, and others were presented with letters dated back in early May and signed by Minister John Nkomo. Land Reform now falls under the portfolio of Minister Didymus Mutasa. The seizures are therefore illegal, and amount to stealing.

Mrs Ndanga was allegedly moving around Mwenezi with soldiers armed with AK47 rifles. She was also assisted by policemen and some, so-called war veterans, who loaded heavy equipment onto trucks. The equipment was taken to Mwenezi police station and Masvingo central police station to be auctioned. Whitehead believes billions of dollars worth have been sold already. No one knows where the money is ending up.

Farmer Whitehead has had problems with Mrs Ndanga in the past. She once made an inventory list of his farm equipment along with personal property from his engineering firm as well. She is notorious in the farming community in Masvingo’s lowveld area. Farmers say she has a nasty attitude and has most likely become very wealthy from illegal acquisitions of farms and equipment. A lot of equipment is piled up at the Masvingo and Mwenezi Police Stations.

Farmers around the country are confused by conflicting government messages, but in Masvingo it is worse because there are 2 ZANU-PF candidates vying for the senate seat. Local farmers say one group has apparently been inciting racial hatred, calling for the eviction of all farmers and looting their equipment and belongings. The other group is said to be encouraging and supporting agricultural production.

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