via Minister grabs Joshua Nkomo’s land – DailyNews Live. 10 June 2014 By Gift Phiri
HARARE – Controversial Masvingo provincial minister, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, is at it again — this time allegedly working in cahoots with a private company in expropriating land at the Chingwizi transit camp owned by the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo.
The contested ranch is registered in the name of the Development Trust of Zimbabwe (DTZ) which was founded by the late and revered Vice President in 1989, when it was then earmarked to produce bio-fuels in Zimbabwe’s Lowveld region.
Bhasikiti’s alleged seizure of the land, ostensibly working in cahoots with a group of senior directors at the Tongaat Hulett-owned Triangle (Pvt) Limited, puts in jeopardy the welfare of at least 3 000 families who were moved in February to the Chingwizi transit camp, in Mwenezi district, Masvingo province — about 150km away from the flooded Tokwe-Mukorsi dam basin where they used to live.
According to the DTZ, the resettled villagers are staunchly resisting plans to evict them from the land to make way for Bhasikiti’s intended business — sugar cane farming.
But Bhasikiti refuted the claims yesterday when the Daily News called him with the allegations, dismissing them as “utter rubbish”.
“Tongaat, I repeat to you, will never farm in Chingwizi. It’s for people or flood victims alone to do their irrigation farming there.
“It’s propaganda. I farm 234 hectares where I grow sugar cane and citrus. I don’t need anything more than what I have. All those imaginations are mere manufacturing and nonsense. It’s a stupid story,” he charged.
But Charles Madonko, DTZ resident director for Nuanetsi, told the Daily News that Bhasikiti was a “wolf in sheep skin”, further claiming that the resident minister was seizing the Nuanetsi Ranch, the property that Nkomo left in DTZ’s care.
He said when the Tokwe Mukosi flood disaster hit the province, DTZ did not object to stranded villagers being brought into the ranch without consultation after realising the magnitude of the humanitarian tragedy, as the priority was saving lives.
Madonko said DTZ had sought audience with the team that was managing the disaster through Bhasikiti, in order to collectively work on structuring a programme to resettle people, as well as other existing development plans with investors.
“But the provincial minister snubbed us. On many occasions we sought audience with him but he was slippery,” Madonko told the Daily News.
“We were extremely worried because his unilateral decisions on how to resettle the affected families placed a huge investment in jeopardy — an investment that is meant to assist the very people affected by the flood.
“Before long, we heard shocking details of how the provincial minister teamed up with a group of senior directors in Triangle Limited to form a company that would grow cane on Chingwizi on the land that is being targeted for the victims. He was given shares in this company on condition that he delivered land to the consortium. So he turned around and in the disguise of resettling flood victims, began to invade DTZ property.”
Triangle (Pvt) Ltd is a Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed Tongaat Hulett’s Zimbabwe subsidiary.
Madonko said Bhasikiti, said to be a loyalist of vice president Joice Mujuru, was abusing the Vice President’s name to quash objections to the seizure of Nkomo’s land.
The late Vice President Joshua Nkomo
He alleged that when they made noise, they were summoned to the vice-president’s office by the minister in her office, Sylvester Nguni.
“In the presence of Dr Judith Kateera, minister Nguni and Bhasikiti himself, we were told that all land is State land and that the government has taken over Nuanetsi,” Madonko said.
“And then I said but we have cattle in there and we were rudely told to move them out. I was very sad. (The late VP) Nkomo worked hard to buy Nuanetsi from Imperial Cold Storage Company of South Africa in 1989. We bought the farm as DTZ — we did not grab it from anybody.
“Now to be told ‘all land belongs to government’ really boggles the mind. We had to borrow funds from Old Mutual and the loans were repaid in full. And then I wished that Josh (Nkomo) were alive.”
Madonko said Bhasikiti later told Mujuru at a caucus briefing in Masvingo that he has an investor to develop irrigation for the people, but they would not be allocated individual plots.
Villagers would get one hectare each for homesteads and the rest of the hectarage would be put under cane by the unnamed investor who would give dividends to the community once every year for their land.
The villagers have staunchly resisted this.
On May 10, 10 Zanu PF ministers, including the ministers of Local Government Ignatius Chombo and Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, visited the camp accompanied by armed police in an unsuccessful attempt to get the displaced families to accept relocation without compensation to one-hectare plots, where they have been told they must grow sugar cane or lose food aid.
Madonko said the planned relocation was a sinister plot that would personally benefit Bhasikiti and a coterie of senior directors at the South Africa-owned Triangle Limited.
“He (Bhasikiti) has disguised his selfish money-spinning venture as assistance to the people,” Madonko said.
“I remembered Josh’s (Joshua Nkomo) words there and then — if you can have leaders whose pre-occupation is to turn the misfortune of their people into a money spinning venture, then the President has every reason to be angry — he is surrounded by wolves.
“Now the people at Chingwizi are resisting and we can’t blame them — how can people have this imposed on them — to be told that you will never work on the land all your life, you will just sit on your homestead and get money every year if there is a profit from your land.”
The DTZ resident director said jackboot tactics were being employed to expropriate Nkomo’s land.
“To start with, we as DTZ, are the owners of the land, we were not consulted when this plan was being hatched, now we see the army personnel being forced into our premises — right into our offices without any form of consultation or communication,” Madonko said.
But Bhasikiti said it was State land which they can use to resettle the people, and “there is no need for consulting.”
“That’s not private land, it’s a trust,” Bhasikiti told the Daily News. “They can’t claim title to the land. The leaders decided to have it in trust for the people. We were given permission by minister of Lands.”
Madonko said Bhasikiti was “unleashing the army on our property.”
“We have complained to the ministry of Lands and they are saying the President will decide on the matter,” Madonko said.
“But Bhasikiti’s midnight schemes are going ahead in full steam on the ground.”
Bhasikiti said: “Why should the army come? There is no conflict. Why do we need the army?”
Madonko said the Chingwizi saga has all the makings of a group of money-minded politicians taking advantage of the trust thrust upon them by the government.
“Our democratic systems have been badly tampered with and the leaders we have in office are not people-oriented, they are driven by capitalistic gains,” he said.
Madonko called on Mugabe to intervene and save the expropriation of Nkomo’s land.
“Our only hope as DTZ is the President — we are really sending stress signals to him to save us from Bhasikiti,” he said.
“We are not opposed to the need to resettle people, but we cannot do it in a manner that annihilates Nkomo’s legacy. This ranch was one of Nkomo’s favourite projects and for a long time we did not have money to kick off — now we do have investors and his legacy can be realised in full.”
The Chingwizi ethanol project that was planned by DTZ was expected to create 5 000 jobs while at least 2 000 small-scale sugarcane farmers around the area would benefit by supplying their crop to the ethanol plant.
Madonko said Bhasikiti’s planned expropriation of Nkomo’s sugar cane farm was an attack on the late veteran nationalist’s legacy.
“When Josh (Nkomo) passed on, his heart was very sore,” Madonko said.
“He often spoke about his fear that the President is surrounded by wolves in sheep skin and today the developments in Chingwizi have brought this out in the open. Chingwizi concerns us greatly as the Development Trust of Zimbabwe because it forms part of Nuanetsi Ranch, the property that Josh left in our care.”
Bhasikiti was recently in the news for the wrong reasons after he allegedly stopped opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai from visiting the Chingwizi camp dwellers with relief aid.