Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Engineer Walter Mzembi has declared he remains the holder of a legitimate offer letter for Barquest Farm in Masvingo until the acquiring authority represented by the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement Dr Douglas Mombeshora revokes it.
He said the provincial land committee led by Provincial Affairs Minister Shuvai Mahofa could only make a recommendation to Minister Mombeshora to have the offer reversed.
Minister Mzembi was responding to a story run by The Herald on April 1 2015 tittled “Mahofa blocks Mzembi farm bid” in which Cde Mahofa said Barquest Farm, owned by Mrs Hellen Mitchell, was strategic to the economy of the province.
Cde Mahofa yesterday said there was no going back on the decision to bar Minister Mzembi from taking over the farm which houses the largest chicken hatchery project in the province.
“We have already written a letter to the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement (Dr Mombeshora) informing him of our decision to have Minister Mzembi’s offer letter at Barquest Farm withdrawn and nothing is going to change on that,’’ she said.
“Our decision as the provincial land committee cannot be challenged because it is us the people of Masvingo who decide what should happen with our land. The Minister of Lands cannot turn down what we would have recommended because he does not live here. The issue of Barquest Farm is a closed chapter and we have already assured the owner of the farm, Mrs Mitchell, that she is safe because the hatchery project there is very important to us,’’ added Senator Mahofa.
Minister Mzembi was issued with an offer letter to take over about 367 hectares at Barquest Farm.
He attacked Minister Mahofa for defending a white farmer.
“It is, in the circumstances, inconceivable and ideologically bankrupt for a senior Government official, who should know better, to defend both iniquities, let alone when such iniquities are by old colonial settler farmers.
“The ongoing narrative about some farms being too strategic to take over is a misplacement of priorities. All land is strategic and should never be used as a tool for political revenge, vengeance or retribution by blacks against their own kind, as seems to be the case here,” he said.
The Masvingo provincial land committee recently resolved to block Minister Mzembi from moving onto Barquest Farm arguing that the hatchery project was of strategic importance as it supplied day-old chicks to Masvingo, Manicaland and Midlands provinces.
Minister Mombeshora said his ministry was seized with the case.
“We will resolve the matter away from the media. We do not handle it in the media,” said Minister Mombeshora.
Minister Mzembi said there was no need for Minister Mahofa to say she was investigating how many farms he owned as records in her office would show that he owned none.
“This is a shameful way for senior members of one Government to conduct their affairs in the public domain. It is unfortunate that the new minister is so excited about her new deployment to the extent of disregarding Government communication methods, and is prepared to cast aside sacrosanct values like returning land to its indigenous owners, so that she can exercise spite against her perceived political adversaries,” said Minister Mzembi.