By Paul Nyathi | Farmers Rob Smart and his son Darreyn were on Thursday given a thunderous welcome by villagers at Lesbury Estates in Headlands communal lands east of the Harare.
The now almost delict farm had been taken over by Tebernacle Missions leader Bishop Trevor Manhanga a self confessed ZANU PF and Robert Mugabe loyalist who already had two farms.
The ZANU PF die hard clerick evicted Robert Smart from Lesbury farm with the help of armed police and ZANU PF militia early this year.
The Smart family had stayed at the farm for more than eight (8) decades and only to be evicted after Bishop Manhanga had claimed that he was “given” the farm by government.
“I am in legal and lawful possession of an offer letter issued on 15th March 2015 to a piece of land measuring 100 hectares of Lesbury Estates in Makoni District,” he said on taking over the farm.
“ There are at least two other persons known to me who also have valid offer letters to land on Lesbury Estates, namely the current Chief Tandi (Mr. William Samhungu) and Mr. David Nyakonda. I am not privy to the amount of land that has been offered to them but none of us is in dispute with each other,” Bishop Manhanga said.
The Pro –President Robert Mugabe cleric said, Mr Smart deserved to be evicted because he was “arrogant”.
The eviction of the white farmer, left over 10 000 local villagers who depended on the farmer in terms of employment stranded.
According to the villagers where Lesbury farm is situated, Mr Smart was instrumental in developing their area.
They said the white farmer was also repairing local roads as well as incentivizing teachers at local schools.
With a military escort, Robert Smart made his way back into Lesbury farm about 200km east of the capital, Harare, on Thursday to cheers and song by dozens of workers and community members.
“We have come to reclaim our farm,” sang the women and men, rushing into the compound.
Ruling ZANU PF party supporters, led by the liberation war veterans evicted many of Zimbabwe’s white farmers under a violent land reform program led by Mugabe.