via Letter to the Editor of the Patriot from Luke Tembani from ZimbabweSituation Facebook June 6, 2014
Letter to the Editor from Luke Tembani
In response to an article in your publication, The Patriot, of 23 – 29 May 2014 with the heading, “The Luke Thembani Story: Tragedy of Buying One’s Own Land”, I wish to advise that this is a very incorrect report.
The land invasions only started in the year 2000. Before that it was not only me who bought my own land. Many senior black politicians also bought land, and large houses so that they could move from high density houses to large houses in low density areas.
I ventured into farming on my own in 1983, and had specific objectives in mind.
- I was very eager to show the world that as a black commercial farmer I could farm as efficiently as anyone else.
- I also wanted to show the world that there are people like me who could achieve wonders on my farm.
- I wanted to set up large-scale cropping programmes and to manage my farming operation effectively, like anyone else in the world, which is exactly what I did.
- It was important to me to employ and maintain a large workforce and to provide them with good living conditions and salaries.
- I wanted to progress successfully, and I achieved this.
- Three years down the line, I asked the Ministry of Education to build a school for the community, and a clinic, on my farm. They told me they had no funds, but that I could go ahead and build the school on my own. In that same year, 1986, I built the school with my own funds. It comprised four classrooms with desks and benches, accommodation for up to eight teachers and an office. The following year, in January 1987, I sank a bore hole to provide sufficient water.
The school opened in 1987 with 321 pupils from the farming community and was registered with the Ministry of Education. I automatically became the school’s responsible authority and, when I found that parents could not afford to pay school fees, I declared free education for all and provided this up to 2000 when my farm was taken from me.
In addition to providing education, I catered for school activities, including football and educational trips, as well as providing library books. The government deployed eight teachers and I took care of their welfare. A certificate from Ministry of Health was issued. I also built a church hall and improved the accommodation of my workers.
In 1989, I wrote a letter to the President’s Office to invite the President to come to see the extent of the achievements at my school, but I was told that he was too busy and he did not have the time to visit my school.
- That same year, I had a terrible drought which was a major setback. The African Finance Corporation (AFC) told me they could no longer assist with the financing of my crops because of the drought.
- The income tax department refused to give me rebates and instead put a stop order on my tobacco sales. The AFC also put a 100% stop order on my tobacco sales to recover the loan up to September 2000.
- In November 2000 I lost title to my farm when it was unilaterally auctioned by the Agricultural Bank of Zimbabwe (the new name for the African Finance Corporation) to cover the loan. This was despite my getting approval to subdivide and finding a buyer so that I could sell off a section of the farm to cover the debt. They sold my entire property to a third party at a fraction of its value. I took my case to the High Court, which ruled in my favour, but the Supreme Court overruled the decision and in November 2007 the sale was upheld. In June 2009 I took my case to the SADC Tribunal and won the case, but four months later, in October 2007, my family and I were evicted from the farm, without being able to take any farm equipment and household goods. As a result, we are virtually destitute and the school is no longer operational.
- I served as the Manicaland Provincial Chairman of the Indigenous Commercial Farmers’ Union for seven years and did a great deal to upgrade the newly settled farmers, educating them and acquiring inputs on their behalf. I also served for five years on the Mutare Rural District Council in Ward 1 at the special request of the District Administrator’s Office in Mutare.
I was angered by the fact that the bank wrote me a letter saying that I was stupid to build a school before servicing their loan on the farm. Is the bank only interested in giving loans for farming, without considering the future of the children who are the future of our country?
In view of the above and my efforts to uplift fellow black farmers, I do not understand how your publication can claim that I did not respect the liberation struggle.
I demand that you retract your claim that Luke Tembani is against proper land reform because I was one of the leading black farmers who showed how it could be done. I also demand that you write the truth about my situation, instead of writing lies about me.
In your retraction, you must also include this: A team of South African journalists led by President Tabarekwi came to Zimbabwe and the Mayor of Mutare, Mr Enoch Musabaeka, selected my farm for the journalists to tour. In this way I was promoting our country and our efforts to uplift the people. People must learn to be faithful to our country and the laws that God gave us so that we can all earn a good living.
I insist that you correct the incorrect statements you made in your article. I am writing this so that you know who I am and who I was yesterday, as I have explained. In this regard, I would also like to point out the following:
- The late Vice President Simon Muzenda phoned the AFC to stop the sale of my farm.
- The late Vice President Joseph Msika sent me to the Attorney-General’s Office for his advice.
- The Attorney-General’s Office gave the Vice President three options to follow in my favour, but no-one listened.
- The Honorable Didymus Mutasa even visited my school and spent all day on the farm, appreciating the progress that I had made.
In closing, I insist that you publish an apology from The Patriot, or from the reporter who wrote the factually incorrect and slanderous article.