Mutasa, Muchinguri Lock Horns Over Farm Seizure

ZANU PF's women's league leader, Oppah Muchinguri, tried to block Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Didymus Mutasa from violently taking over one of the most productive farms in Manicaland in what is seen as widening divisions in the party over the continuing land invasions.

Mutasa allegedly threatened Rusape tobacco farmer Gavin Woest with death if he tried to resist the takeover of his Masasa Farm by Agatha Mugomba on January 2, according to the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU).

But after continued threats by Mutasa and Zanu PF militia camped at the farm, the farmer and his family eventually left, abandoning his farm equipment and unharvested tobacco crop.

The CFU said Woest was first tipped off about the impending takeover on Christmas Eve while helping another farmer Ray Finaughty of nearby Manda Farm to pack up his belongings after he was given three hours to vacate his farm.

The following day a Jomic team that included Muchinguri arrived at the farm and tried to intervene.

"During the talks, Ms Oppah Muchinguri was harassed by the three youths," the CFU said.

"A silver Toyota Prado approached the scene. Mr Didymus Mutasa got out of the vehicle and greeted everyone present.

"Talks between him, the Jomic delegation and us continued for a while.

"The talks became heated, at which stage Mr Mutasa proceeded towards his vehicle to leave," reads the letter written to CFU by Woest.

"The delegation voiced their disappointment towards Mr Mutasa’s way of addressing the situation. They returned to Harare shortly after that. The youths remained on the farm."

Yesterday Muchinguri confirmed visiting the farm but said she did not clash with Mutasa who is also Zanu PF secretary for administration.

But she spoke against the ongoing takeover of productive farms by Zanu PF militants across the country.

"As Jomic it is our role to investigate cases such as these and our role is to ensure that economic activities at farms are not disrupted," she said.

"So as Jomic we do not support any disruptions that cause economic instability."

She said she called Mutasa to the farm to discuss the situation which was getting out of hand.

Muchinguri has been at loggerheads with the Zanu PF leadership in the province following her audacious bid to topple Vice-President Joice Mujuru ahead of the party’s congress last month.

The women’s league boss embarrassed Mujuru in polls in Masvingo but failed to garner the same support in nine other provinces.

Mutasa was not available for comment yesterday.

Meanwhile, CFU president Deon Theron said white commercial farmers had grown weary of the unending farm disruptions despite the new political dispensation.

He said the invasions were also militating against Zimbabwe’s efforts to attract foreign investors.

"The disrespect of property rights, court rulings and signed Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements and the selective application of the rule of law also contribute to the unwillingness by investors to get involved in Zimbabwe, thereby hindering the recovery process," he said.

"As much as 80% of former prime land now lies uncultivated and thousands of farms are derelict.

"Up to 60 000 workers and their families have been displaced, many of whom were assaulted or tortured by militants." The Standard