By Anyway Yotamu.
HARARE – The late Hero and Anti-Corruption Commissioner Shepherd Gwasira must be turning in his grave with envy, as his children are about to be chucked-off his SS Ranch and Mete farm in Zvimba District, Mashonaland West under circumstances the late liberation war hero’s children have deemed suspicious circumstances, as authorities claim the exercise is part of the national farm down-sizing scheme under S.I 41 of 2020.
SS Ranch and Mete downsizing comes barely half a year after Gwasira, who was also the Zimbabwe Republic Police Senior Assistant Commissioner and Chief Staff Officer responsible for human resources at the Harare headquarters, passed away leading to his children questioning the whole process of the family’s farm being down-sized.
However, for the late commissioner’s Gwasira’s sons, Kudzai and Munya Gwasira, the exercise by the Government authorities who have put the farm under the down-sizing programme exposes a brewing rot at the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture and a ‘bullying’ nature of loyal and hardworking and productive young farmers by authorities for selfish ends.
According to a letter seen by this publication, signed by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Resettlement Dr Anxious Masuka dated (25 November 2020) titled: “NOTICE OF INTENTION TO WITHDRAW LAND OFFER UNDER THE LAND REFORM AND RESETTLEMENT PROGRAMME (MODEL A2, PHASE II)” reads, “Notice is hereby given that the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement intends to withdraw the offer of land made to you in respect of Subdivision 1 measuring 2 757.97HA of CONS of Lot 1 SS Ranch, Rem of SS Ranch and Mete farm in the District of Zvimba in Mashonaland West Province.
“The resason/s for the withdrawal are as follows: (i) Downsizing in terms of S.I 41 of 2020 (ii) Heir will be given offer letter for remaining portion.
“You are invited to make any representations you may have on this matter in writing within 7 days of receipt f this notification. All correspondences should be directed to the Minister,” read the letter.
What makes the whole episode of the redistribution and downsizing of the SS Ranchh and Mete farm so hurtful and suspicious to the Gwasira brothers is the fact that the family that faces being removed from part of the arable land that has been developed over the years, as developments such as electricity, laying of irrigation pipes and other agricultural machinery and equipment such as ‘Centre-Pivot’ had already been established at the land that has been earmarked for downsizing, according to the brothers.
This leaves the Gwasira beneficiaries standing to inherit undeveloped virgin lands, despite their late father working so hard to leave his children a legacy on which to carry on their farming activities as usual.
In an exclusive interview with the Reporter, the former commissioner’s son, Kudzai said his family feels hard done by the lands ministry who have found it fit to redistribute the family’s 2.757.97ha (of which only 200ha is arable land) farm, despite the fact that the family has been productive on the farm for more than a decade, to date.
Said Gwasira, “After my father passed away in August 2020, we received a letter from the Ministry of lands and agriculture informing us that the farm had been put up for down-sizing under the government’s S.I 41 of 2020 exercise. Obviously, we were surprised since the only 200 hectares arable land had been put to go use since during the days when my father was alive.
“We were perplexed by the ministry’s decision to put our farm up for down-sizing and also the fact that we are now only expected to be apportioned a small portion on the arable land available, while the bigger portion we had developed is now most likely expected to be given to a top government official, if indications given to us by some sources in well-placed government offices is anything to go by,” writhed the visibly frustrated young Gwasira.
Bone of contention for the Gwasira family is the pace at which these developments are coming as the proposed owner of the land that has been put up for redistribution has already started pitching-up cabins and tents before the family’s lawyers, Makwanya Legal Practices had even made an urgent application at the courts to stop the whole process.
According to documents at hand, Mete farm had become a distinguished cereal farm in the province. Development of the farm includes installation of underground irrigation systems and later centre pivot irrigation systems including water pumps and dams. It is estimated a million dollar worth of investment was spent on developing Mete Farm.
Production returns indicate that for the year 2020 284 tonnes of maize and nearly 400t of wheat was delivered to the Grain Marketing Board at Rafingora from the farm that is now about to be downsized by authorities.