Estates invasion new worry for Zimbabwe investors

via Estates invasion new worry for investors 22/05/2014 by Reuters from NewZimbabwe

HUNDREDS of illegal settlers invaded sugar estates owned by the Zimbabwe units of South Africa’s Tongaat Hullett this week, raising new concerns about the security of foreign investment in the country.

While production was not affected, the invasions will worry investors already uneasy over President Robert Mugabe’s black empowerment policy that seeks to force foreign-owned companies, including mines, to sell at least a 51 percent stake to locals.

Zimbabwe made world headlines in 2000 when thousands of settlers occupied white-owned farms with the blessing of Mugabe’s Zanu PF party, leading to a collapse of commercial agriculture that triggered a decade-long economic slump.

Until this week, no illegal settlements had been reported since 2009.

Lands and Resettlement Minister Douglas Mombeshora told Reuters on  Thursday police were evicting about 600 families that had moved onto sugar estates owned by Tongaat’s Hippo Valley Estates and Triangle Sugar in southern Zimbabwe.

“We do not allow that. This is why police have moved in quickly to put an end to the invasions,” Mombeshora said.

Tongaat is the largest foreign investor in Zimbabwe’s agriculture sector, employing 18,000 workers.

Some villagers around the sugar estates have in the past accused the government of failing to fulfil its promise to parcel out some of the land belonging to Hippo Valley and Triangle and may have taken the matter into their own hands, local media reported.

The illegal occupation of the estates will feed long standing investor perceptions that Zimbabwe does not respect property rights.

The Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU), which now has fewer than 400 members, compared with 4,500 when the 2000 land invasions started, said its farmers continued to be harassed and evicted from their land despite government pronouncements that land reforms had ended.

CFU president Charles Taffs said a white farmer and his daughter had died after a violent attack by unknown assailants this week on their property in Guruve, 160 kilometres (99 miles) north of the capital Harare.

A police spokeswoman said she was unaware of the incident.

“After 14 years this surely must come to end,” Taffs said in a statement.

Adelaide Chikunguru-Musvovi, a spokeswoman for the two Tongaat estates, said this week’s illegal occupations had not disrupted production and “the matter is being dealt with appropriately by authorities”.

Triangle is wholly owned by Tongaat, which also has a 50.3 percent stake in Hippo Valley.

The two estates’ sugar mills have a combined milling capacity to crush nearly 5 million tonnes of cane annually and produce over 640,000 tonnes of raw sugar. Their refining capacity is 140,000 tonnes per annum.

In October 2012, the government gave Hippo Valley and Triangle two weeks to submit a plan detailing how the companies planned to sell 51 percent of their shares to locals under Mugabe’s black empowerment drive, or face forcible seizure.

The government has not followed through on the ultimatum.

Tongaat’s estates in Zimbabwe have contracted about 700 black farmers who supplied 850,000 tonnes of cane in the half year to September 2013. Plans are underway to contract another 600 farmers.

 

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 7
  • comment-avatar
    John Thomas 8 years ago

    Piqued at not getting their share of stolen property. What a shower. Idle, useless and greedy

  • comment-avatar
    Bambabzonke 8 years ago

    It just proves that the is NO control ,which means no law , no respect for property rights , and human rights. PF will self distruct and it looks like they are all going in different directions , why aren’t the Chinese investing in agriculture !!!!

    • comment-avatar
      Petal 8 years ago

      100% correct Bambabzonke the chinese are interested in the Minerals

  • comment-avatar
    nyoni 8 years ago

    These are politically motivated events by people who dont want the status quo to change. They know that when Bob goes to hell they will not get the benefits again. You see the party will be over for them .THE PEOPLE OF ZIMBABWE ARE NOW WAITING TO FACE THESE CRIMINALS VERY SOON.

  • comment-avatar
    Doris 8 years ago

    Zanupf has bred generations of ‘people’ who think it is right to take whatever they want – for nothing. In a civilized world this is called theft. These so called war vets (how old are these war vets?) are barbaric thieves.

  • comment-avatar

    Simple fact! The rule of law needs to come back! But ZPF do not understand this. No investment. Economy going down the tubes. God’s judgment!

  • comment-avatar
    Mlimo 8 years ago

    No investment in Zimbabwe is safe from the zanupf thieves