Mugabe's Chief Seizes Farm, Evicts 31 New Farmers

A traditional leader in President Robert Mugabe’s home province has seized a farm which was under occupation by 31 “new farmers” since 2001.

Stanley Mhondoro, the reigning Chief Zvimba, has taken over Lion Kopje farm in Mashonaland West Province after officials in Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo’s office withdrew the new farmers’ title to the farm.

The villagers were recently served with eviction notices by Zvimba District Administrator identified as Tizora, who indicated that their removal was to accommodate Mhondoro.

Perturbed by the eviction, the new farmers are now pinning hopes on the high court which was petitioned last week with an order seeking to interdict Chief Zvimba from chasing them away from occupying the farm.

According to the villagers, Mhondoro has no basis to occupy the farm, which they seized from its former white commercial farmer in 2001, because a committee overseeing the allocation of land in the province had advised them that the traditional leader could not be accommodated on the farm.

“The farm was pegged to 31 A1 subdivisions. The farm is 623 ha in extent. Mr Mhondoro’s offer letter entitles him to 350 ha of Lion Kopje. This leaves 271 ha for the 31 beneficiaries. This translates to an allocation equivalent to 8.74 ha for every beneficiary. There is no room for the A2 subdivision of the farm. The DLC (district lands committee) should consider allocating Mr Mhondoro a subdivision elsewhere,” reads part of a report compiled by the Ministry of State Security in President Mugabe’s office which was responsible for parcelling out land in 2007, which was seen by Radio VOP.

The villagers, who charge that Mhondoro is using his political muscle to occupy the farm, say they should be allowed to leave Lion Kopje in April next year after harvesting their tobacco crop.

They contend that they have not been given sufficient notice to vacate their farm given that they own immovable property, granaries and animals and had made preparations for the next tobacco farming season.

“We stand to be prejudiced and suffer irreparable harm by such a move,” reads part of the court application.

In addition, the “new farmers” charge that Wix Wichen farm, which the authorities want them to occupy after their eviction from Lion Kopje, is a “forest”.