GOVERNMENT has finally kicked out embattled Beitbridge farmer, George Watson, from his 2 000-hectare banana-producing Double O Ranch, although it is still unclear, who the property has been allocated to.
Source: Govt kicks out Beitbridge farmer – NewsDay Zimbabwe October 19, 2016
BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
The distraught Watson confirmed the farm takeover yesterday, saying a provincial lands officer, only identified as Dodzi, had personally delivered the eviction notice.
“It’s the sad reality, I am confused, but I will not resist, I can’t fight the government. I have until February to wind up,” he said.
“I am a born-free, I have not known any other home besides this farm and sadly I have to leave.”
Watson said he felt betrayed that he was being evicted when he was instead expecting an offer letter.
“I was promised an offer letter, but now this is what I get,” he said.
Dodzi referred all questions to his ministry’s head office in Harare.
“I have told you before to ask my head office in Harare, I cannot speak with the media,” he said.
It is not clear who the ranch is earmarked for, but Beitbridge Senator Tambudzani Mohadi, once carried an inventory of all assets at the farm including furniture, clothes and cutlery, claiming she owned the property.
Watson, who lives with his wife, children and 70-year-old mother, returned to the farm barely two weeks ago after fighting an earlier occupation by Mohadi, Zanu PF Matabeleland South chairperson, Rabelani Choeni, the councillor for Majini ward, Amon Ndou and a few villagers.
A High Court interdict removed Mohadi, Choeni and the villagers, but crops were badly affected during the tussle for the farm.
“We have lost 750 tonnes of tomatoes and a large section of the perimeter fence was stolen during the period we were driven off the farm,” Watson said.
His family was initially driven off the farm during the initial land grabs at the turn of the millennium, but was invited back to develop the ranch through a Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe loan in 2003.
Until he developed the farm no one had shown interest and Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, in 2014, instructed that the farm be spared because of its productivity.
Watson said he was contemplating relocating to a neighbouring country, where his services would be appreciated.
Meanwhile, the wrangle over ownership of Benfer Citrus Farm in Beitbridge has taken yet another twist with the arrest of the farm owner’s driver for allegedly stealing equipment from the property.
One of the invaders, an army official, Darlington Muleya accused a driver, only identified as Mapopo, of stealing a ridger last week, which has led to him being summoned.
The farm owner, Ian Ferguson said the ridger actually belonged to them and not the invaders.
Ferguson said his lawyer, Winston Tshakalisa, had gone to represent Mapopo, who had been taken in for questioning, initially on Tuesday, where the case was dismissed.
But Mapopo has since been summoned to appear in court tomorrow.
On Friday, the driver, with Tshakalisa, had fingerprints taken before he was sent to the public prosecutor, who was not happy with the way the docket was presented and the driver was released.
“We have been to the police twice this week along with the farm manager and this disrupts commitments on the farm,” Tshakalisa said.
Muleya remains on the 1 400-hectare citrus farm despite having being served with eviction orders.
The damage caused by the invasions has forced Ferguson to abandon the export of citrus fruit.